Francisco Vieira, an eminent Portuguese painter, was still a child when he became enamored of Doña Ignez Elena de Lima, the daughter of noble parents, who lived on friendly terms with his own and permitted the intercourse of their children. The thread of their loves was broken for a while by the departure of the young wooer to Rome, in the suite of the Marquis of Abrantes. There he applied himself diligently to the study of painting, under Trevisani, and carried off the first prize in the Academy of St. Luke. On returning to Portugal, although only in his 16th year, he was immediately appointed by King John V. to paint a large picture of the Mystery of the Eucharist, to be used at the approaching feast of Corpus Christi; and he also painted the king's portrait.

An absence of seven years had not affected Vieira's constancy, and he took the first opportunity of flying once more to Ignez. He was kindly received by the Lima family, at their villa on the beautiful shores of the Tagus, and was permitted to reside there for a while, painting the scenery, and wooing his not unwilling mistress. When the maiden's heart was fairly won, the parents at length interfered, and the lovers found the old adage verified, that "the course of true love never did run smooth." Vieira was ignominiously turned out of doors, and the fair Ignez was shut up in the convent of St. Anna, and compelled to take the veil.

The afflicted lover immediately laid his cause before the king, but received an unfavorable answer. Nothing daunted, he then went to Rome, and succeeded in obtaining from the Pope a commission to the Patriarch of Lisbon, empowering him to inquire into the facts of the case; and that prelate's report being favorable, the lover was made happy with a bull annulling the religious vows of the nun, and authorizing their marriage. It is uncertain how long this affair remained undecided; but a Portuguese Jesuit having warned Vieira that at home he ran the risk of being punished by confiscation of his property, for obtaining a bull without the consent of the civil power, he prolonged his residence at Rome to six years, that the affair might have time to be forgotten at Lisbon. During this period he continued to exercise his pencil with so much success that he was elected a member of the Academy of St. Luke.

After such a probation, the energy and perseverance of the lover is almost unparalleled. He finally ventured to return to his native Tagus, and accomplished the object of his life. Disguising himself as a bricklayer, he skulked about the convent where Ignez lay immured, mingling with the workmen employed there, till he found means to open a communication with her and concert a plan of escape. He then furnished her with male attire, and at last successfully carried her off on horseback (though not without a severe wound from the brother of his bride), to another bishopric, where they were married in virtue of the Pope's bull. After residing for some time in Spain and Italy, however, Vieira was commanded to return to Portugal, and appointed painter to the king. Being the best artist in that kingdom, his talents soon obliterated the remembrance of his somewhat irregular marriage, and during forty years he painted with great reputation and success for the royal palaces at Nafra and elsewhere, for the convents, and the collections of the nobility. It will doubtless be pleasing to the fair readers of these anecdotes, that all this long course of outward prosperity was sweetened by the affection of his constant wife.