Manuela Torres was neither an artist nor an intellectual, but her emancipated and modern spirit encouraged her to look for activities which would not normally fit womanhood. An example is her practice of bullfighting, which surprised Fernando Lemos when he visited her parents’ estate in the district of Vila Franca de Xira, where they raised cattle.
However, when Lemos made her portrait he preferred to focus on Manuala Torres’ beauty and femininity. But the illuminated emptiness of an empty hand can be seen as a hint at a desire for new experiences and unexpected encounters. The subtlety of this detail upsets a portrait which otherwise could be taken as conventional, as a sign for the possibility of different readings.