15, DOM MANUEL STREET
FORMER NAVAL CLUB, DESIGNED BY FRANCISCO CORREIA CÂMARA, 1898 C.
PRESENTLY NAVAL AND OCEANOGRAPHIC MUSEUM
UNKNOWN AUTHOR | MORTAR BAS-RELIEFS, 1900 C.
Built to be the headquarters of the Naval Club, the external decoration here alludes, mainly, to the many navigation instruments that have helped men to conquer the sea throughout the centuries.
In the middle of algae and corals, two putti – perhaps representing the spirits of Curiosity and Discovery – hold a banner among numerous symbols related to marine activity: the compass, the anchor and the nautical chart. Behind the banner is the North Star (or Polaris), a reference to the period of time when navigators estimated their position by observing the stars (below).
An anchor occupies all vertical space of one of the façade´s little secondary pediments. Framing the anchor there are two fishes, stylized, interlacing their tails through it. The symbolism of the anchor is related to the idea of safety, trust, salvation and hope, and for this reason it always appears depicted in buildings that maintain any relationship with the sea. Beyond this relationship, it is acceptable that the known christian symbolism of the anchor – with the exagerated architrave and accompanied by fishes, alluding to the Passion of Christ -, was not totally ignored by the artist in the ornament´s composition (below).
Born from Poseidon´s offspring, the greek god of the seas, the tritons were responsible for calming the waters to allow their father´s passage. They were also the sea messengers, and this is the reason why we can see here one of them blowing on a shell, as he was announcing something. We can also notice a trident among narcissus, acanthus leaves and waves produced by the movement of their tail (below).