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Maria Leonor d’Orey

(b Guimarães, c. 1465–70; d Lisbon, c. 1536–7).

Portuguese writer, designer and goldsmith. He was active from 1502 to 1536 in the service of Queen Eleanor, Manuel I and John III as a playwright, goldsmith, musician, stage designer and actor. It is known, on the evidence of the King’s will, that in 1503 Manuel I entrusted to Vicente the gold from Quiloa that Vasco da Gama (c. 1460–1524) had brought as tribute from his second voyage to India and commissioned Vicente to make the Belém Monstrance (1506; Lisbon, Mus. N. A. Ant.) for the monastery of the Jerónimos at Belém. It is the only surviving example of his work as goldsmith and is one of the best examples of gold- and silverwork in the Manueline style.

At the end of the 19th century, however, there was controversy as to whether the playwright could be identified as the creator of the Belém Monstrance. Documents of the period refer to a ‘Gil Vicente’ without further identification, and biographical details of the poet are not easy to establish. Analysis of the work of the dramatist, however, reveals a profound knowledge of the goldsmith’s craft in the use of over 150 technical terms that would probably not have been familiar to a layman....