Composition in tones, ochre, yellow, green, blue, gray, black, violet and white tones. Smooth texture. Composition represents the first Mass held in Brazil. In the center of the composition, in the background, diagonal altar with missal and flowers, with Friar Henrique de Coimbra celebrating the Mass with his arms up, holding the cup in the act of consecration of the wine. He is to the right of the altar, facing 3/4 to the left, wears a dark cassock over an alb and chasuble with large cross on his back; the left arm carries a stole, and around his neck is the hood characteristic of Franciscan friars. Behing the friar we see a kneeling sexton also facing 3/4 to the left, with his head bent down, folded hands holding Friar Henrique's chasuble. To the left of the altar, in the foreground, we see from the left to the right: a soldier, standing 3/4 facing right and looking toward the altar. He wears an uniform, suggesting chest armor and metal helmets;has the arms along the body and legs apart at rest; a little more to the right and to the bottom, three men, side by side, kneeling, in profile to the right, and the center one's head is facing forward. It is suggested that they are perhaps soldiers, since their clothes have a hooded cloak. Further on the right, group of eight Franciscans kneeling, backs slightly turned to the right, forming two rows. All wear dark tunics with hood over their back and rope around their waist, all are bald and have their heads bent down and suggest to be with folded hands. To the right of the center, still in the foreground, we see, on the ground, an open chest with a kind of cloth over it; more to the right, grou of seven figures, all kneeling and profiled to the left, forming two rows. Of the four standing in front, one is Pedro Álvares Cabral and the other, Pero Vaz de Caminha, both have beards and wear berets. They have heads tilted down and folded hands. The two other figures are of indefinite sex. Back row, a woman is seen crying with his hands on her face and holding a handkerchief and two men have their faces turned forward, one of them staring at her. In the background, on the right, behind the altar, group of eight old, bald and bearded men with folded hands with pleading expression, turned toward the friar who is celebrating the Mass. A little further back, four soldiers standing, one of which holds a long spear vertically. On the third level, to the left, group of soldiers kneeling in profile to the right, with their heads bowed down; on the right, group of soldiers, also kneeling, in profile to the left; they all hold long lances vertically, wear uniforms and helmets; a little more to the right and to the bottom, another group of soldiers, facing forward and with folded hands. Background with landscape of sea and hills, where we can see parts of the sky. Four vertical rectangles, three on the left and one on the right, cross the height of the support, suggesting tree trunks that could symbolize Brazil wood. Clear geometric and dark areas suggest superimposed planes and light games, especially on the ground and on the left side of the altar. Behind the altar we see a long blue stick with clear flag crosings the center. Light falss from in the center of the area of ​​the composition, highlighting the altar and also on the female figure on the foreground on the right.


  • Title: The First Mass in Brazil
  • Creator Lifespan: 1903-12-29 - 1962-12-06
  • Creator Nationality: Brazilian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Creator Birth Place: Brodowski, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Date: 1948
  • Physical Dimensions: w598 x h266cm without frame
  • Provenance: João Candido Portinari
  • Rights: João Candido Portinari
  • External Link: Projeto Portinari
  • Theme: historical themes:historical scenes:first Mass in Brazil, historical themes:characters:Friar Henrique de Coimbra, historical themes:characters:Jesuits, historical themes:characters:Pedro Álvares Cabral, religious:religious scenes:Mass, human figure:group:men, human figure:woman
  • Technique: tempera
  • Signature: Signed and dated at bottom left edge "PORTINARI MONTEVIDEO 1948"
  • Painter: Candido Portinari
  • Number: FCO 1706
  • Notes: Obra tombada pelo Instituto do Patrimônio Artístico e Cultural do Estado do Rio de Janeiro em 1992, pela resolução SEC nº 0599.
  • Function: Work commissioned by Thomaz Saavedra while president of the Banco Boavista to decorate the bank’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, RJ. Work designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.
  • Catalogue Raisonné: CR-2661

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