French Artistic Mission: collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

French Artistic Mission
The coming of the "French Artistic Mission" to Brazil is undoubtedly one of the great events of our artistic and cultural history. The group of artists and craftsmen, headed by Joachim Lebreton (1760-1819) when he arrived in Rio de Janeiro on March 25, 1816, was to create an art and craft school in the capital of the United Kingdom. The arrival of the French Mission not only aired the panorama of the artistic scene and instituted the neoclassical style, but radically changed the concept of production and teaching of the arts. The exhibition presents an expressive cluster of paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures and medals that compose the foundation of the bicentennial Collection of the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes and offers to the public the contact with the first generation of Brazilian artists formed by foreign professors who arrived here with Lebreton.
The painters of the French Mission
Jean Baptiste Debret and Nicolas Antoine Taunay

Jean Baptiste Debret
There are many facets of Debret as an illustrator of Brazilian customs and as an official painter, who registered events and ceremonies involving the Portuguese Royal Family then exiled in Rio de Janeiro and the historical facts after Independence. The paintings of Debret presented remain faithful to the neoclassical program and its afterwards in the Napoleonic period, the Empire style. This fidelity to the French school headed by his relative and mentor, Jacques Louis Davis (1742-1825), is reflected in works such as: Portrait of D. João VI and the Study for arrival of Dona Leopoldina in Brazil, both from 1817.

Debret was a faithful chronicler of the times of D. João VI and D. Pedro I.

His painting is vibrant and never monotonous.

Nicolas Antoine Taunay

He was born in Paris. At the age of thirteen, he entered the studio of Lepicié and then of Brenet. Soon after, he studied with Casanova, painter of battles and landscapes, whom he considered his master. In 1784. He obtained a pension to study at the French Academy in Rome. He came to Brazil in 1816, part of the so-called French Mission, which would provide the neoclassical outbreak in our father and promote the founding of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. Here, he was one of the setters of the urban landscape of Rio during the five years that lived in that city.

A French architect at the court of the tropics
Architecture was for many years an area of study in the field of fine arts, and it was within this context that the teaching arrived in Brazil.

Grandjean de Montigny
First official professor of architecture in Brazil, he arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1816, a member of the French Artistic Mission. His formation took place in the School of Fine Arts of Paris, under the direction of Delannoy, Percier and Fontaine. In 1799, he was awarded with the Great Prize of Rome.

Detail with the inscription: Medaille d'or remportée a l'exposition du Salon De MDCCCVIII

Taking advantage of his stay in Italy, he made several trips around the country. He returned to Paris in 1808 and participated in competitions opened by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1810, invited by Jerônimo Bonaparte, king of the Westphalia, created works in Cassel. In Brazil, where he died, he made several works in neoclassical style, giving the architecture of Rio de Janeiro a new artistic conception.

The official teaching of sculpture in Brazil
The first attempt to create a systematized teaching, molded by Europeans, was carried out in 1816 with the arrival of the French Artistic Mission, which came with Neoclassicism aesthetic principles. The style got inspiration in Greco-Roman art where the classical form was parameter to represent its creations, with the theme of exaltation to the Empire, through mythological, allegorical themes and historical facts. Auguste Marie Taunay was officially the first sculpture teacher of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. In Brazil, Auguste Taunay did not have the opportunity to work as a teacher, due to his death six years after his arrival. In 1817, two sculptors, the Ferrez brothers - Marc Ferrez and Zépherin Ferrez - arrived in Brazil, who began to perform small private services and attended the Academy as a pensioner, with Marc Ferrez being the nominal adjunct to Auguste Taunay. With the death of Taunay, in 1824, he assumed the sculpture chair João Joaquim Allão.

In 1866, when he took over the direction of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts Nicolas Taunay, the Ferrez brothers were appointed professors of sculpture and medal engraving chairs. From this moment, they begin to form students, working a neoclassical production, with clear influence of the Roman art of the republican period.

They have a neoclassical treatment, especially in the eyes, hair and in the distribution of the volumes.

But it is possible to perceive in the treatment of the musculature of the face and in some details of the physiognomy a freedom that Marc Ferrez brought of his admiration by the Roman realism.

Zépherin Ferrez
He was a medal engraver and also made some sculptures. He had a strong performance as a professor of the chair of engraving medals and leaving a vast production of medals.

It is noted in detail of the dress,

In the perfection in the construction of the hair and the beard the careful and skilled hand of a engraver.

The first generation of students at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts
One of the main legacies left by Debret, Marc Ferrez and Grandjean de Montigny was the formation of painters, sculptors and architects who have continued, both in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and in their professional careers, the activity of their supervisors, consolidating the Art Academic teaching and providing the professionalization of countless generations of artists who succeeded them until the final years of the nineteenth century.

Correia de Lima
He was one of the typical influencers in Brazil of the knowledge absorbed from the French masters. As titular, from 1840, of the chair of Historical Painting of the Academy. The work of Correia de Lima that was most notable was the famous portrait of Simon,

Reproducing the features of the sailor hero of the shipwreck happened in 1853, on the coast of Santa Catarina. In the middle of the slavery period, a black man is represented with dignity, no longer a secondary character.

Maestro Francisco Manuel dictating the National Anthem to his stepdaughters

A rare image of the author of the Brazilian national anthem

Manuel de Araújo Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre's qualified and multiple activity, who was a painter, architect, forerunner of the art of caricature, our historiography and art criticism, and a poet of recognized importance within the Brazilian romantic movement, brought them great renown in cultural circles in Brazil of his time. He was also Director of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, between 1854 and 1857, with outstanding performance. As a painter, in addition to his compositions of historical character, with a strong neoclassical accent, he painted typical themes of romantic art,

Such as the representation of caves

And beautiful landscaping trials such as -Floresta Brasileira

August Muller, born in 1815, German based in Rio de Janeiro, is the author of the portrait of Luisa Francisca Panasco

wife of Grandjean de Montigny.

Francisco Manuel Chaves Pinheiro
He began his studies with Marc Ferrez at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. In 1850, he entered the magisterium, being named Substitute of the Sculpture Chair, where, two years later, became titular. His style was strongly influenced by neoclassicism processed by the members of the French Artistic Mission.

He remained a professor of Academy of Sculpture until 1884, the year of his death.
D. Pedro II greatly aided Chaves Pinheiro, not only providing resources for the accomplishment of artistic works, but also sending him to Europe in 1867 to observe, as a member of the Brazilian Mission, the Universal Exhibition of Paris. On this occasion, the sculptor was given the task of reporting the situation of the museums of the main European cities.

José da Silva Santos, in his work as a sculptor, replaced - in 1851 - the great Zépherin Ferrez in the chair of Engraving Medals of the Academy.

Contemporary Artists: the First Generation
Félix Émile Taunay and Simplício Rodrigues de Sá, older than the artists previously presented, but because they are almost contemporaneous, for having similar formations and stylistic affinities, besides having lived in the Imperial Academy, were included in this exhibition. In the same vein, a project by José Rodrigues Moreira is presented, which, although not part of the first generation of students of Grandjean de Montigny, was strongly influenced by the great French architect.

Félix Émile Taunay
Although he is not really a companion to the artists who were part of the first generation of students, Felix Émile can be considered almost a contemporary. He was director of the Imperial Academy and during his stay in the role was created in 1840 the General Exhibitions of Fine Arts, as well as the granting, from 1845, of travel prizes abroad. Felix Taunay, born in 1795, was French, son of Nicolas Taunay,

He left pictures

And a landscape work of great interest, in which shows an ecological concern.

Simplício Rodrigues de Sá
Born in Portugal in 1785, he was primarily an excellent portraitist.

José Rodrigues Moreira
Student of Architecture course of the Imperial Academy, having received Honorable Mention (1850), Great Gold Medal (1852) and Prize of Travel (1862) in the General Exhibitions of Fine Arts.

Credits: Story

French Artistic Mission: collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts

Museu Oscar Niemeyer - Curtiba / PR
April 17 - July 29, 2007
Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo / SP
August 19 - September 23, 2007
Pedro Martins Caldas Xexéo
Laura Maria Neves de Abreu

Credits: All media
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