The Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis and City hall houses a collection of sculptures amounting to about seven hundred works, relating to Porto of both the Middle Ages and the Modern period, resulting from either urban demolition or the despoliation of the monasteries during the Republican movement.
An extensive group of works maintain a close relationship with the history of the city, corresponding to the teaching of sculpture in the Academia Portuense de Belas Artes (currently Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto), which received a strong impulse from António Soares dos Reis, sculptor of international fame who has lent his name to the Museum since 1911. The successors of Soares dos Reis and Teixeira Lopes, whose activity extended into the first part of the 20th century, are represented by a group of naturalistic works while excellent modern artists are also present, representing this period in portraiture.
Related with an important aspect of the municipal museum is a Roman Sarcophagus from the Upper-Alentejo, dating from the 3rd century, whose sculptural decoration alludes to the seasons.
Our Lady of Rocamadour, a statue presumed to date from 14th century, represents Maternity in art. Work in limestone is distinguished by such pieces as a St. Clare and an Nossa Senhora de Ó, attributed to Master Pero. The latter is believed to have been a patron saint which guarded the Porta da Ribeira, one of the gateways which used to exist in the medieval city walls. Among other religious works in limestone there is a Maria Lactans, considered as one of the most precious Marian statue of the diocese. Two English alabasters represent imports from Nordic workshops while a Nossa Senhora do Leite in polychrome wood, derived from the Convento de Santa Clara in Vila do Conde, is attributed to the Flemish school (workshops of Brabant or Limburg) from the 2nd half of the 15th century.
The primacy given to António Soares dos Reis (1847-1889) in the Sculpture Gallery is not only due to his artist talent, but also the technical progress that he conferred on the art. Among Romantic manifestations with Classical references and realism in portraiture, is his master piece “The Exile”, sculpted in Rome in 1872, as the final test of his scholarship. One of his most important portraits was the statue of Conde de Ferreira for the cemetery of Agramonte, in Porto, while the “Bust of an Englishwoman”, portraying Mrs. Leech should also be mentioned.