The snowy story of Côrte-Real

The snowy story of Côrte-Real

Well known as a gallery displaying paintings, ceramics and beautiful gifts, Côrte-Real is also steeped in an historic past. Co-owner Pedro Côrte-Real is a member of an illustrious family of explorers whose journeys took them to some of the coldest climates in the world.
Research into Pedro’s family tree indicates that through his father’s family line he is related to João Vaz Côrte-Real, appointed in 1474 as Governor of Terceira. Located in the Azores, the island was an ideal situation for his adventurous sons, Miguel and Gaspar. Sailing west across the Atlantic, they are credited with being the first Europeans to set foot on the island of Newfoundland. Off-shore the cold sea was teeming with cod fish and the brothers named their discovery, ‘Terra Nova do Bacalhau’, New Land of the Codfish.
Coming across such valuable fishing grounds brought the brothers fame, the pair of them becoming celebrated citizens on Terceira and in mainland Portugal. Impressed by their seamanship and navigational skills they were sponsored by Dom João II to make a further voyage. Westwards once again and further north they spotted a remote and distant shoreline. Unable to land due to bitter weather, snow and ice-flows, it is now evident that what they saw was the coast of Greenland.
From this snow-clad kingdom the brothers went their separate ways, Miguel returned to Lisbon to inform the king. Gaspar meanwhile headed south intent on charting the seaboard that we now know to be North America. He and his crew were never heard of or seen again and it is assumed that they were lost at sea.
Determined to find them, Miguel set sail from Lisbon once again but, like his brother, he never returned.
Intriguingly, his whereabouts created an enduring mystery and at its centre is the enigma of the Dighton Rock. Found on the north eastern seaboard of the USA – at the edge of the Taunton River in Massachusetts – this enormous sandstone boulder is chiseled with numerous indecipherable messages and images. The only identifiable words are the names Miguel Côrte-Real and symbols that show the Portuguese Coat of Arms, the Cross of Christ and a triangle that stood for the Portuguese escudo.
Despite their separate and tragic ends, the brothers’ name was not forgotten. Long after they went missing, sailors in the vicinity of ‘Terra Nova do Bacalhau’ often referred to it as the Land of the Côrte-Reais. At St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, a towering statue of Gaspar was erected as recently as 1965.
Visit Côrte- Real’s new Pop-Up Gallery located above the estate agents ‘Fine and Country’ in Rua do Barranco, Carvoeiro.
The main gallery ‘Galeria Côrte-Real’ is signposted from Boliqueime, Ferreiras and Paderne. Open Thursday to Sunday, from 11am until 5pm. The gallery is closed from December 19 until January 15.
912 737 762 | www.corterealarte.com
By Carolyn Kain