This was Portugal's first designated national museum. It was founded in 1833 to showcase works of art from dissolved monasteries and convents, including a valuable collection of paintings, glass, ceramics and jewelry (especially noteworthy is an 18th-century breast piece studded with precious stones).
The collection's most emblematic work is "O Desterrado" ("The Exhiled") by sculptor Soares dos Reis (after whom the museum is named), but also of note are two portraits by François Clouet (1522-72), and landscapes by Jean Pillement (1727-1808).
Another highlight is the huge "Pedra de Eiró", a rock taken from a threshing ground by the Douro River, engraved with spiral motifs that are typical of Western European megalithic art.
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