When Brazil was dawing

The First Mass In Brazil by Vítor Meireles e Candido Portinari

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

First mass in Brazil by Candido PortinariMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

In 2013, two artworks considered icons of the Brazilian’s art were shown in an exhibition at the the National Museum of Fine Arts, and one of them was exhibited for the first time to the public. The exhibition, allowed the public to compare the different views of the same historical moment — the mass celebrated on April 26 of 1500, four days after the Discovering of Brazil — from two different schools of painting: the academical romanticism of the catarinense (Born at the state of Santa Catarina) Vitor Meireles, one of the greatest Brazilian painters of 19th century, and the modernism of the paulista (Born at the state of São Paulo), one of the greatest names of the Brazilian’s arts during the 20th century. The title of the exhibition — When the Brazil was dawning- was suggested by a book of the pernambucano historian Alberto Rangel, which tells about the initials facts of the Brazilian land. Beyond the two greatest painting, are at the exhibition a group of the studies and pictures related to the artworks of Meireles e Portinari.

First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Painted between 1858 and 1860, the painting of Vitor Meireles, a giant artwork of 2.70 by 3.57 meters, is one of the classics of the National Museum of Fine Art’s collection.

First mass in Brazil, Candido Portinari, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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The painting of Candido Portinari has only arrived at the museum in January 2013, after being bought by the Brazilian Institute of Museums (IBRAM).

Painted in 1948, the panel, of 2.71 by 5.01 meters, was requested from Portinari by Thomaz Oscar Pinto da Cunha Saavedra (1890-1956), the third Baron of Saavedra, for decoration at the head Office of the Boavista Bank, where He was president. Until be bough by the IBRAM, the painting was only known by people Who had access to hall of the building, projected by the architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012).

Fotografia de Vitor Meireles de LimaMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

Vitor Meireles de Lima

View of the exhibition Quando o Brasil amanhecia – a Primeira Missa no Brasil vista por Vítor Meireles e Candido Portinar (2013)Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

To the left, Candido Portinari and part of the painting “The First Mass in Brazil”

First mass in Brazil, Candido Portinari, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Analyzing “The First Mass in Brazil” by Candido Portinari, the great art critic, the pernambucano (Born at the state of Pernambuco) Mário Pedrosa gave prominence to his anti-naturalism, comparing to the homonyms painting of the catarinense master.

First mass in Brazil (1860) by Vítor MeirelesMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

Vítor Meireles created a great historical painting, following the aesthetic and formals precepts commons at the 19th century, searching for the creation of an image subordinate to the historical reality, even, idealizing through the distribution of the figures and the landscape, the composition, ultimately, the presumed solemn aspects of this event.

First mass in Brazil by Candido PortinariMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

Portinari took a different way to the historical reality, freely understanding the scene and not getting literally attached, as Vitor Meireles, to the text at the letter of Pero Vaz de Caminha. Both paintings, however, give us grandiosity and capture our eyes.

First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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First mass in Brazil, Candido Portinari, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Almost a hundred years the separate the creation of the two paintings made the conditions for the way of paint and choose of the technique.

First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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The carpentry for the “First Mass in Brazil” took a great effort of Vitor Meireles. Beyond the meticulous reading the Letter of Pedro Vaz de Caminha (1450-1500), official writer of the fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the artist did many preparatory studies, using many techniques, that forms a harmonious set that demonstrate operosidade and the rigorous methods of the catarinense painter, already at that time (1858-1860) owner of a skillful graphical “metier”, developed during his studies at Rome and Paris.

Estudo para "Primeira Missa no Brasil": franciscano ajoelhado, Vitor Meireles, 1859/1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Estudo para "Primeira Missa no Brasil": armaduras, Vitor Meireles, 1859/1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Estudo para "Primeira Missa no Brasil": índias, Vitor Meireles, 1859/1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Estudo para "Primeira Missa no Brasil": mãos, Vitor Meireles, 1859/1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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First mass in Brazil, Vítor Meireles, 1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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Estudo para "Primeira Missa no Brasil": paisagem, Vitor Meireles, 1859/1860, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
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First mass in Brazil by Candido PortinariMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

In his work, Portinari didn’t appeal to the picturesque, creating an original composition, which is synthetic, with its own light.

It doesn’t exist any attempt of mimesis, of apprehension of the topographical aspects of the region of Bahia where the Portuguese arrived.

The compliments about the paintings’ formal qualities are intense and diverse.

First mass in Brazil (1860) by Vítor MeirelesMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

First mass in Brazil by Candido PortinariMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

The look of the art critic Antonio Bento, for example, praised the chromatism of the painting from Portinari, declaring that this work was one of his great achievement as colorist.

Credits: Story

Quando o Brasil Amanhecia – A Primeira Missa no Brasil vista por Vitor Meireles e Candido Portinari

Curadoria e texto: Pedro Xéxeo
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
2013

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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