Alfredo Neto Ribeiro
ALFREDO NETO RIBEIRO
Alfredo Neto Ribeiro was born in 1931, one of a family of stonemasons who had been part of the major restoration work on the Monastery of Batalha in the 18th century. He was taught the delicate and complex art of cutting stone and it became his vocation, even if there wasn’t always enough work to put food on the table.
By 1922, things had become grim for the restorers of Batalha, and most stonemasons left in search of a better life, just leaving behind the family of Pedro Jorge Ribeiro, Alfredo Ribeiro’s grandfather, who lived on the property and ended up watching over and opening up the monument. Every so often, the General Board of National Buildings and Monuments, created in 1929, would find work for them. As Alfredo Ribeiro grew up, he also became a monument guard, and then it wasn’t long before he was in his element creating miniature models of the Monastery for the visiting public or for a few private commissions. In the meantime he left his job as monument guard to become a civil engineering draughtsman, eventually opening his own office.
Among the many activities offered by the Museum of the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, created in 1980, was the resumption every Saturday of teaching the art of stone cutting, in collaboration with the Domingos Sequeira Secondary School in Leiria, under the tutelage of Master Alfredo Neto Ribeiro and thus reviving the family tradition at the Monastery. At the end of 1987, his expertise was instrumental in the commencement of a training course in stone cutting restoration. This course, promoted by the Portuguese Institute of Cultural Heritage and the Employment and Professional Training Institute, came to an end in 1988. After that, a professional course in stone cutting was offered during the school year of 2009/2010 in the Cloister of King Afonso V at the Monastery of Batalha, by the National School of Arts and Traditional Crafts of Batalha and integrated with the Secondary School of Batalha.
Master Alfredo Ribeiro lectured and collaborated on restoration projects within the monument itself and also outside (the reconstruction of the vault of the main chapel of Cortes church in Leiria being of particular note), as well as on new work, until 2003 when he passed away. He left us a lifetime of work and teaching that his disciples have continued to this day.