MASP'S COLLECTION BACK TO LINA'S BO BARDI CRYSTAL EASELS
The return of Lina Bo Bardi's radical crystal easels to the exhibition of the collection in December 2015 presents a selection of works from various museum collections spanning a temporal arc from the 4th century BC to 2008. The easels had their debut during the opening of the museum's current headquarters in 1968 and were removed in 1996. The return of the easels is not a nostalgic or fetishistic gesture towards an iconic exhibition design, but should be understood as a review of Lina Bo Bardi's museological program with its spatial and conceptual contributions. The political dimension of her proposals is suggested by the open, transparent, fluid and permeable gallery that offers multiple possibilities of access and reading, eliminates hierarchies, predetermined scripts and challenges canonical narratives of art history. The gesture of removing the paintings from the wall and placing them on the easels points to the de-sacralization of the works, making them more familiar to the public. Still, on the other hand, the informational subtitles placed on the back of the works enable a first encounter with them free of contextualizations of the history of art. In this sense, the experience of the museum becomes more humanized, plural and democratic. In the original configuration of the exhibition with easels, Lina Bo Bardi and Pietro Maria Bardi organized the works by schools and regions. Now they will be positioned strictly in chronological order, arranged in a winding route, as in an electrical resistance. This organization does not coincide with the chronology of art history, with its schools and movements, nor does it compel the public to follow its course. The spatial transparency of the open space and the easels invites visitors to build their own paths, allowing unexpected juxtapositions and dialogues between Asian, African, Brazilian and European art.
"Picture Gallery in Transformation" is a semi-permanent exhibition of the collection, as it will remain open to frequent changes, adjustments and modifications. Thus, the exhibition avoids the ossification and sedimentation typical of samples from permanent collections in museums. The exhibition focuses on figurative art, reflecting the history of the collection and the interests of Lina and Pietro, who resisted the predominant hegemony of the abstract tradition in Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s. Both were preoccupied with the abstraction depoliticizing effects during the promotion of geometric abstraction by the United States in its "good neighbor policy" during the Cold War. The exhibition also includes works by artists frequently excluded from the Brazilian canon of art history - such as Agostinho Batista de Freitas, Djanira da Motta e Silva, José Antônio da Silva and Maria Auxiliadora da Silva -, highlighting the MASP's commitment to diversity and multiplicity. The last work of the 21st century on the show, Suspended Time of a Provisional Status (2008), by Marcelo Cidade, transforms the crystal easel into an object of institutional reflection. His presence also signals the desire of the museum to resume dialogue with contemporary art in our gallery.
Statue of the Godness Hygeia (século 4 d.C.) by UnknownMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Statue of the Goddess Hygeia (4th century BC) is part of MASP’s archaeology collection, having belonged to the museum since 1950. The collection includes works from different Mediterranean cultures and works from the period between ancient Egypt and Hellenistic and Roman civilization.
According to Greco‑Roman mythology, Hygeia was one of the daughters of Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. Her name derives from the same root as the Greek words corresponding to “hygiene” and “health.” The Romans translated her name as Salus, recovering the worship of the goddess and dedicating various temples to her. Hygeia is associated, above all, to the prevention of illness, which is why her symbols (the serpent and the cup) were appropriated by the pharmaceutical sciences.
The goddess was depicted dressed in a tunic, with a snake wrapped around her body and drinking from her cup. In many Mediterranean cultures, the snake symbolized wisdom and eternal life.
In MASP’s work, made of marble, Hygeia is carrying the god Eros, or Cupid, in her left arm and holding a bowl in her left hand; the snake is wrapped around her right arm. The Goddess’s mythological attributes are not well defined and she was sometimes represented, as in this case, in the company of Eros, similar to the Venus/Aphrodite.
Pair of Chinese Guardians Pair of Chinese Guardians (618/907) by UnknownMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
This sort of image is called lokapala, a Sanskrit term that designates the guardians who protect sacred places from bad spirits and profaners. The position of the two figures is complementary: each is resting one hand on his belt while raising the other (left or right) arm. With a frightening facial expression, a penetrating stare and a warlike hairdo, they are both wearing armor that covers their legs to below the knees.
The two guardians are from the period of the Tang Dynasty, which unified China (618-907 AD). This was a period of state reform inspired by the thinker Confucius (551 BC-479 BC), involving the centralization of the state administration, the expansion of territory, the strengthening of the army and the founding of universities and libraries.
Madonna and Child Enthroned and Two Angels (circa 1275) by Maestro del BigalloMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Maestro del Bigallo
Maestro del Bigallo is the name used by convention in Italian art history to identify a certain otherwise anonymous 13th-century painter. The Bigallo was the shelter for pilgrims and travelers maintained by the twelve captains who led the Compagnia Maggiore di S. Maria, an agency of the Papal Inquisition created in 1244 in Florence. The name also refers to a rooster painted by the same artist on the crucifix that became the emblem of the Compagnia. Only in the 20th century was the painting in MASP’s collection attributed to the artist by experts in Italian art.
The work of this artist reveals an influence from Byzantine culture, which came to Italy in the 13th century by way of illuminations — decorative drawings seen in the pages of medieval manuscripts. The painting features characteristics typical of Byzantine art: a composition with rigid lines, lack of depth, stiff representation of figures and the use of symbols — like the cloth held by the female figure, which refers to ceremonial garments worn by Byzantine empresses, and the halo that appears at the top.
The graphic aspect of the drapery lines in the robe lends the painting volume and a certain lighting. This piece was owned by the Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) and Pietro Maria Bardi (1900-1999) couple — the architect of MASP and the museum’s founding director, respectively — and was donated by Pietro to MASP on the occasion of the museum’s 45th anniversary in 1992 in honor of Lina’s memory.
The Virgin and the Child (1310 - 1320) by Maestro di San Martino alla PalmaMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Maestro di San Martino alla Palma
Maestro di San Martino alla Palma is the name by which Italian historians conventionally designate an otherwise anonymous painter active in 14th-century Florence. The name refers to the church in the city of San Martino alla Palma where much of the artist’s work is found. For a long time the authorship of these works was erroneously attributed to Bernardo Daddi (1280-1348), a painter who was influenced by the Maestro. The Maestro’s works stand in counterpoint to the monumental paintings of Giotto (circa 1266-1337), a style which dominated Italian art in the 14th century.
His painting is charged with Gothic values, characterized by linear compositions and affectionate, intimate relationships between the characters depicted, with the presence of miniatures. The work in the MASP collection, most likely created for an altar — given the angular, upward pointing format at the top — shows a traditional scene of Christian iconography in which the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus exchange looks, and reflects the introduction of affective, human elements in religious imagery.
Saint Jerome Penitent in the Desert (1448 - 1451) by Andrea MantegnaMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Andrea Mantegna was an apprentice of artist Francesco Squarcione (1397-1468) from age 12 to 17, when he separated from his teacher and painted the famous frescoes of the life of Saint James at the Ovetari Chapel in Padua (1448-57), partially destroyed during World War II. The brother-in-law of artist Giovanni Bellini (1430/ 35-1516), Mantegna was the official court painter of the Gonzaga family in Mantua, Italy.
The painting in the MASP collection, Saint Jerome Penitent in the Desert (1448-51), depicts the saint in the Chalcis Desert in Syria, as an example of a hermit who seeks intellectual development and penance in seclusion. The scene features some traditional elements of this saint who was both an ascetic and a scholar: the lion from whose paw Jerome was said to have removed a thorn, the red bishop’s hat, the candle burning in the cave in front of a crucifix and the saint’s immersion in prayer beside the closed books.
For a long time, the authorship of this painting was questioned, but some characteristics of the work match with others made by Mantegna: the owl, which appears in his frescoes at the Ovetari Chapel, as well as the rocks and silvery cloud, similar to those painted in the Agony in the Garden, now part of the collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The stony aspect of Jerome’s figure, which tends to blend with the rest of the scene, is in keeping with Mantegna’s style, characterized by expressive drawing and by shapes inspired in the sculptures of ancient Rome.
The Virgin with Standing Child, Embrancing Mother (Madonna Willys) (1480 - 1490) by Giovanni BelliniMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Born to a family of artists, Bellini collaborated with his father, the painter Jacopo Bellini (1396-1470), until he began receiving his own commissions. The artist’s rigorous design and the expressiveness of the figures portrayed are qualities he adopted from from his brother‑in-law, the painter Andrea Mantegna (circa 1431-1506). Bellini developed a personal style in the treatment of light. From 1483 on, Bellini worked as the official painter of the Republic of Venice, where he ran the largest studio at the time, having Titian (1488/90-1576) and Giorgione (1477/78-1510) among his students.
In the painting which belongs to MASP, "The Virgin with the Standing Child, Embracing His Mother" (Madonna Willys) (1480-90), Bellini shows a certain distance between the Virgin Mary and Jesus. While their bodies are close, the facial expressions are melancholic and Mary seems to avoid her son’s gaze; they do not have the same tenderness seen in so many other Italian madonnas from the same period. The painting presents the two figures behind a parapet, which separates the spectator from the scene, emphasizing the transcendence in the subjects’ divine nature in contrast to the mundane life on our side of the canvas. The parapet may also represent an altar on which the child is offered in sacrifice; the green cloth, in the background, can emphasize this sense of the child’s body in the representation. Here, Bellini incorporated the spatiality proposed by Florentine painting, characterized by the depth of the space, without losing the symbolism and formal rigor of Byzantine art.
The Virgin Lamenting, St. John and the Holy Woman of Galilee (1485 - 1490) by Hans MemlingMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Memling was a student and collaborator of Roger van der Weyden (1400-1464), in Brussels. He then moved to Bruges, where he directed a very active studio with many artists. Possessing extraordinary technical mastery, he created an original style that combined the characteristics of his former teacher with those of Jan van Eyck (1390-1441): compositional balance and the intensity of color and expression. In "The Mourning Virgin with St. John and the Holy Women from Galilee" (1485-90), we see Mary at the front, along with St. John the Evangelist and the pious (devout) women present at Calvary, according to the writers of the Gospels: Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, and Salome, the wife of Zebedee.
The group of figures, like a choir in classical theater, is watching the main action, responding to it as a group. The work in MASP’s collection was part of a retable formed by two panels. The second panel, today lost, most likely depicted Christ’s descent from the cross, as we see in another work by Memling at the Capilla Real de Granada in Spain (1494). In 2013, the museum received the donation of a painting with this theme, executed by a follower of the master in the first half of the 16th century, perhaps inspired by the original, lost work.
Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist (1490 - 1500) by Sandro Boticelli e ateliêMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Sandro Botticelli and studio
The name Botticelli is derived from the word battiloro, meaning “goldsmith’s apprentice” in Italian, the artist’s first occupation in Florence. He studied at the workshop of Fillippo Lippi (1406-1469) until 1467, when he joined the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488). In 1470, he opened his own studio, where he worked in collaboration with apprentices, a common practice at the time. Soon he achieved the position of master and became a protégé of the Medici, an influential family of bankers who sponsored a large part of the artistic and architectural production in the city.
Historiography indicates that the work in the MASP collection, "Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist" (1490-1500), is a painting created by Botticelli, with assistants at his studio executing some of the elements, such as the figure of John the Baptist and the scenery. The circular-shaped scene possesses various features characteristic of Botticelli: people looking and gesturing in different directions, intimate, harmonious relationships between the characters, clear colors and sharp, precise outlines. The artist’s production was heavily influenced by Neoplatonic philosophy. The piece in the MASP collection, however, belongs to the artist’s last phase, influenced by the religious ideas of Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498).
The Resurrection of Christ (1499 - 1502) by Rafael (Raphael)MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Ever since he began his education in the workshop of Pietro Perugino (1446-1524), Raphael circulated in the court of Urbino, and at age 16 he was already receiving commissions as a painter. In 1504, the artist moved to Florence and later to Rome, where he decorated the papal apartments (1508-20) and had contact with artists like Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Michelangelo (1475-1564), both major influences on his artistic development.
The painting at MASP, "The Resurrection of Christ" (1499-1502), was the subject of much discussion among art historians before it was finally attributed to a young Raphael. The debate was settled thanks to a comparison of the work with sketches found at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which revealed a composite study of the bodies of the guards in the painting. The painting features characteristics which Raphael acquired at Perugino’s workshop, such as the rigorous division of the vertical and horizontal axes. Moreover, the symmetrical articulation between the central and peripheral elements was a hallmark of Raphael, who strove for an ideal of harmonious beauty in his paintings derived from the values of classical antiquity.
Christ’s feet mark the center of the painting, above the rectangle formed by the four guards, who are gesturing in different directions. The half-open cover of the sarcophagus in the center of the canvas suggests volume and depth, as do the hills and mountains in the background. The angels beside Christ imitate his upward-pointing gesture, alluding to the belief in a divine existence.
Triptych – Christ Carrying the Cross, the Cruxifixion and the Entombment (Sem data/Undated) by Jan van DornickeMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Jan van Dornicke
Jan van Dornicke, the son of a sculptor, was active in Antwerp between 1509 and 1527, being one of the most important masters in the city at that time. Of his estimated 20 surviving artworks, one of them was donated to MASP in 2004.
The retable, possibly made in the 1520s, is composed of three panels depicting Christ carrying the cross, being crucified, and being carried to his tomb. There is a certain decorum in the gestures and theatrical expressions of the characters; the figures in the foreground form independent clusters in the scene, allowing the gaze to follow different and conflicting narratives, in which pain and compassion are mixed with the most brutal violence.
The dramatic contrasts arising from the colors of the women’s clothes and the lavish ornaments on the soldiers highlights them as protagonists of these scenes. The compositions are inspired by the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) and of Lucas Cranach, the Elder (1472-1553). The lateral parts of the work can be closed or opened to hide or reveal the inner paintings, according to the requirements of the liturgical calendar.
It is also possible that the outside of these panels bore images that are today lost.
The Temptations of St. Anthony (circa 1500) by Hieronymus BoschMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
St. Sebastian at the Column (1500 - 1510) by Pietro Perugino e ateliêMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Pietro Perugino and studio
Born Pietro Vannucci, Perugino was a painter and illustrator who worked in a number of Italian cities, mainly Perugia, Florence and Rome. The painter, possibly a pupil of Piero della Francesca (1415/1420-1492) and Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488), collaborated with various artists from that period, including Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) and Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), with whom he worked together on the frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Though today he is best known for having tutored Raphael (1483-1520), Perugino left his mark on the history of Italian art by combining the Florence compositional model, characterized by well-defined rendering, with the picturesque style dominant in Umbria, distinguished by the structuring of space based on architecture
Such elements can be seen in the painting in the MASP collection, "St. Sebastian at the Column" (1500-10), in which the human figure, represented in a clear, well‑delineated manner, is placed at the center, and depth is created from the layered positioning of geometric columns, arches and flooring. According to Christian tradition, Saint Sebastian was a Roman official who was sentenced to death by arrows after he converted to Christianity. The nude, hairless body and the face with delicate features seem to anticipate a homoerotic reading of this saint by 20th-century artists such as Pierre & Gilles, Leonilson (1957-1993) and Derek Jarman (1942-1994).
Virgin and Child with Young St. John the Baptist, and an Angel (1500 - 1510) by Piero di CosimoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Piero di Cosimo
The first part of the name by which the artist is known refers to his father, Lorenzo di Piero d’Antonio, a blacksmith. The other part — Cosimo — is an inheritance of his association with Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507), whom he helped in various works, such as the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. After that collaboration, Piero assumed a central role in the Florence art world. The artist’s mature production evinces two overriding features: a wealth of detail coupled with equal treatment allotted to objects and people as seen in Flemish painting, and the expression of the landscape not as a background, but as a place of symbolism and imagination, as in the work of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).
Piero studied meteorology and was interested in the changes of natural lighting during the day, with the variations of the bluish hue of the landscape. Both these characteristics can be seen in "Madonna and Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Angel" (1500-10). The wide-open scenery recalls the Flemish panoramas, a world apart from classical ruins; the uncommon iconography of a standing Madonna is accompanied by other elements, such as the caterpillar, the crow and the sprouting plants — symbols of death and resurrection. The scene is being reverently observed by a young angel who is offering the Madonna a flower, a symbol of her sacrifice. MASP’s work recently underwent a restoration, in collaboration with the Soprintendenza di Roma.
The Virgin Nursing the Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist in Adoration (1500 - 1520) by GiampietrinoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The Unequal Marriage (1525 - 1530) by Seguidor de Quentin MetsysMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
School of Quentin Metsys
The Unequal Marriage (1525-30) represents the theme of the “grotesque marriage” — the young man who marries an old woman, interested in her wealth — common in the medieval popular tradition and in the Greek and Roman comedies. The topic also appears in texts of wide circulation, especially in northern Europe, such as the poem "Ship of Fools" (1494), by Sebastian Brant (1457-1521), and "In Praise of Folly" (1511), by Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536).
The work is attributed to a follower of Quentin Metsys, insofar as Metsys also dealt with the same subject, though in a very different way, in a painting belonging to the National Gallery of Washington, datable between 1520 and 1525. Besides the painting’s proximity with the Dutch master, critics have also pointed to a strong dependence on the grotesque inventions of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).
The couple at the center of the composition is derived from a lost drawing by the Italian painter, known only by a copy dated c. 1602 (Albertina, Vienna), attributed to Jacob Hoefnagel (1575-1630), and reproduced in a print by Hollar (1607-1677) in 1646. Four of the other six figures are based on another drawing by Leonardo conserved in Windsor, called "Five Grotesque Heads". It is possible that the painting stems from the great European success of Leonardo’s comic drawings, which were certainly copied and reproduced by followers of the master who were active in Milan up to the second half of the 16th century.
Portrait of a Young Aristocrat - A young Fiancé of the Rava Family (1539) by Lucas Cranach, o AntigoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Lucas Cranach, the Elder
"Portrait of a Young Aristocrat — A Young Fiancé of the Rava Family" (1539) presents the figure with the family coat of arms on his ring and with a crown of red carnations, symbolizing that he was engaged to be married. It could, therefore, be a canvas executed on the occasion of a marriage, when families of high position exchanged portraits with one another. The short tuft of a beard demonstrates the youth of the handsome character; his left hand resting on a sword hilt might indicate a military vocation. The green background highlights the red tones in the heart-shaped jewel on his chest, on the feather in his crown, and on his buttoned and frilled collar.
Lucas Cranach was an important representative of the German Renaissance. The name Cranach comes from the city where he was born, Kronach, currently in Germany. He studied in his father’s printmaking studio and on trips. In 1501 he set up residence in Vienna. In the court of Emperor Maximilian I, he became renowned by introducing to German art a new way of portraying couples using two panels united by a symbolic landscape in the background.
In 1504, Cranach was invited in Wittenberg to be the official painter of the court of Duke Frederick III of Saxony, protector of the Protestant leader Martin Luther (1483-1546). Cranach became a close friend of the religious reformer and painted various portraits of him and his main coreligionists. Upon becoming the head of a large studio, he absorbed the compositional and intellectual model of Italian painting, renouncing the expressive intensity of his first phase.
The Poet Henry Howard, Count of Surrey (circa 1542) by Hans Holbein, o JovemMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Hans Holbein, the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger began his art training in the studio of his father (Hans Holbein the Elder), working with his brother Ambrosius in Basel (1516-17) and Lucerne (1517-19), in Switzerland. During that period he met the great humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), whom he portrayed various times and for whom he illustrated the classic In Praise of Folly (1511). The young painter’s first works also evince his study of Renaissance works in northern Italy, particularly those of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431-1506).
Holbein is known as one of the masters of portrait in the Renaissance, but was also renowned as a printmaker and designer of stained-glass windows and jewelry. Recommended by Erasmus to the thinker Thomas More (1478-1535), Holbein stayed in England for the first time between 1526 and 1528, settling definitively in that country in 1531 and becoming a portraitist of royalty. "The Poet Henry Howard, Count of Surrey" (c. 1542) was painted in the last years of the artist’s activity. Henry Howard (1517-1547) is considered one of the great English poets of the Renaissance for having developed the form of the sonnet later adopted by Shakespeare (1564-1616) and for having introduced the models of the lyricism of Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374). Because of his family’s position during the years of conflict between the monarch and Rome, he was accused of treason, ending his position of great prestige in the court and resulting in his execution, at the age of 31.
Ecce Homo or Pilate Presents Christ to the Crowd (1546 - 1547) by Jacopo TintorettoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
By all indications, Tintoretto attended the studio of Titian (1488/90-1576), but was sent home due to conflicts with the master. A large part of his paintings can be found at various locations in Venice, two highlights being those at the Doge’s Palace and the Scuola Grande di San Marco.
What distinguished Tintoretto from his contemporaries was the intense use of color, reinforced by quick, firm brushstrokes, marked by abrupt interruptions. He distorted perspective, disorganized human anatomy and intensified the color contrasts to give vibrations to the shadows, striving for greater expressiveness and drama.
He was more interested in the emotional dimension behind each scene than accurate depiction. MASP has two quite distinct paintings by Tintoretto, one created during his youth and another in middle age. The painting Ecce Homo or Pilate Presents Christ to the Crowd (1546-47) alludes to the biblical passage in which Pilate consults the crowd in regard to Christ’s fate. In the pyramidal composition, the public watches the scene of characters deciding Christ’s fate while making theatrical gestures as if onstage.
The dog adds a touch of nonchalance to the scene and might have been painted to take care of a large empty white-and-gray area.
Portrait of Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo (1552) by Ticiano [Titian]MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Born in the region of Venice, Titian became one of the most renowned painters of the Renaissance during his lifetime. As a youth, he was apprenticed at the workshops of Giovanni Bellini (circa 1430/35-1516) and Giorgione (1477-1510). Titian was one of the first painters to preferentially use color as a constitutive element of the composition, substituting the drawing by swatches of color. His paintings are characterized by large formats and emotionally moving scenes.
In the painting in the MASP collection, Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo (1512-1578) is portrayed standing and not dressed in religious garments. Madruzzo was a prince and bishop of Trento at the time that this city hosted the Council of Trent (1545-63) and actively participated in the discussions that led to the beginning of the Counter- Reformation, the Catholic church’s response to the Protestant Reformation. This portrait was painted during that same time. The clock on the table, at left, is a common element in the political iconography of that period, alluding to the ephemeral and fleeting nature of time and power, thus encouraging the prince to act always with prudence. The portrait was subjected to several restorations beginning in the 19th century, which affected its state of conservation.
Diana's Bath (1559 - 1560) by François ClouetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
François Clouet began to paint with his father, the Flemish painter Jean Clouet (1480-1541), whom he succeeded as court painter. He remained in this position during four reigns of the Valois dynasty in France, achieving great renown for his portraits and producing historic and mythological paintings inspired by the work of Italian mannerist painters. MASP’s work exists in three other versions, all in France. Diana’s Bath (1559-60) refers to the myth narrated in Theogony, by the great poet Hesiod (c. 750-650 BC), and in Ovid’s Metamorphosis (43 BC-18 AC).
In the myth, Actaeon is hunted by his own hounds, after being transformed into a deer by Diana, the goddess of the moon and of nature, infuriated by his stumbling upon her as she was bathing with the nymphs.
The presence of two satyrs in the scene, however, is inconsistent with this interpretation, suggesting another one that would have to do with the events of that time: it is believed that she is insinuating the death of King Henry II (1519-1559) (represented by the deer being eaten in the right corner) and his succession by Francis II (1544-1560) (the horseman arriving at the left).
Thus, Diana dressed in red would be the new queen, Mary Stuart (1542-1587), who substituted the seated woman, Queen Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), with a sorrowful look. The third female figure could be Diane de Poitiers, a favorite of King Henry II.
The Annunciation (circa 1600) by El GrecoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Domenikos Theotokopoulos, nicknamed “El Greco” in Spain, underwent his initial art training in Crete, within the tradition of Byzantine art. By 1567 he had moved to Venice, where he especially admired the paintings of Titian’s final phase (1488/90-1576) and the dramatic effects of light and space in the works by Tintoretto (1518-1594). In 1575, perhaps hoping to participate in the works of El Escorial, he moved definitively to Spain. Two years later he was already in Toledo, the former capital and great intellectual center, where he worked especially on paintings of religious themes.
Many believe that his dramatic style resulted in the artworks that best conveyed the city’s soul — proud of its great past, but then decadent after Philip II moved the capital to Madrid. The work "The Annunciation" (c. 1600) is mentioned in the inventory made after El Greco’s death together with another six nearly identical versions, currently located in Cuba, the United States, Japan, Spain and Hungary, all dated between 1595 and 1605. The bodies of Mary and the angel Gabriel are elongated to impart a spiritual tension to the scene. The white lily symbolizes purity, while the flaming plant represents the burning bush through which God first manifested his presence to Moses. The phantasmagoric and gloomy scene, with the explosion of light that represents the Holy Spirit — materialized in the dove — creates a stunningly dramatic atmosphere.
Mars and Venus with a Circle of Cupids and Landscape (1605 - 1610) by Carlo SaraceniMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Born in Venice, Carlo Saraceni moved to Rome at age 19, studying under renowned painter Camillo Mariani (1556-1611). The works he produced in Rome up until 1610 reflect the influence of different Venetian painters such as Titian (1488/90-1576) and Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594), but the legacy of German painter Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610) comes closest to his work as a youth. Both created complex, asymmetrical, inclined compositions, with defined diagonals and a wide variety in the range of characters and background scenes, as seen in the painting in the MASP collection, "Mars and Venus, with a Circle of Cupids and Landscape" (1605-10). Saraceni garnered renown in Rome as a painter of small-format works on copper.
In the painting owned by MASP, Mars, the god of war, is portrayed as disarmed, in an intimate scene with Venus, surrounded by cupids, who use Mars’s armor as a plaything.
The characters stand out in the foreground, theatrically separated from the landscape backdrop, alluding to the Renaissance masters who influenced the artist. For its part, a strong interplay of light and shadow demonstrates the impact that Caravaggio (1571-1610) had on Saraceni.
The cupids' cirandas give great movement to the painting, soften the angles and the inclinations and bring to the composition a ludic element, as opposed to the symbologies of the war that involve Mars.
Archduke Albert VII of Austria (1615 - 1632) by Peter Paul Rubens e ateliêMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Peter Paul Rubens and studio
Besides being one of the most significant artists of the 17th century, Rubens carried out diplomatic and official political missions. During the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648), in which the Calvinists of the United Provinces of the north of Holland fought against the heavy taxation of Catholic Spain and gained their independence, Rubens remained on the Catholic side. His family took up exile in Cologne, in present-day Germany, fleeing from the religious conflicts of that time. Perhaps this is why he sought to affirm, especially in art, a peaceful, humanist and universal language. He painted religious and mythological scenes, portraits and landscapes. After spending eight years in Italy studying ancient and Renaissance art, he founded his own studio in Antwerp and carried out artistic missions in Spain and in England, while also training artists such as Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) and Diego Velázquez (1599-1660).
MASP’s artwork, "Archduke Albert VII of Austria" (1615-32), was commissioned by Albert VII (1559-1621) and formed a pair together with a painting of his wife, Infanta Isabella (1566-1633), the daughter of King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598). After serving as viceroy of Portugal from 1581 to 1585, and in 1595, the archduke governed the Netherlands until 1621, and managed to suspend the conflict during the last twelve years. Thanks to him, Rubens received his first public commissions and was appointed as painter of the Brussels court in 1609. There is no consensus about the authorship of this work, found in his studio after his death. Possibly, it was used as a model for replicas by his pupils.
Portrait of the Count-Duke of Olivares (1624) by Diego VelázquezMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Velázquez was a student in Seville of painter and theorist Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644), who would become his father-in-law and mentor. His first works were scenes from popular and religious life inspired by the vigorous realism of Caravaggio (1571-1610). The support of Don Gaspar de Guzmán (1581-1645), Count-Duke of Olivares, the powerful prime minister of King Philip IV (1605-1665), portrayed in MASP’s painting, garnered Velázquez an appointment as court painter, at the young age of 25. MASP’s portrait therefore represents a particularly important moment in the career of this artist, who transformed not only the artistic taste of the Spanish court but also the European painting of his time.
In the portrait, Olivares displays numerous symbols of power: the large key, the two spurs on his belt and the long gold chain, symbolize his status as Sumiller de Corps and Caballerizo Mayor, titles received by the minister in 1622, which gave him unrestricted access to the king’s chambers; the red cross of the order of Alcántara on his chest symbolizes his belonging to the highest rank of Spanish nobility; the opulent mustache and well-trimmed beard are signs of careful personal grooming and an affirmation of masculinity. Velázquez’s held the position of “Valido del Rey,” the king’s right hand, the true owner of the kingdom.
Apparition of Jesus Child to St. Anthony of Padua (?) (1627 - 1630) by Francisco de ZurbaránMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Francisco de Zurbarán
In 1614, his father entered him as an apprentice in the studio of painter Pedro Diaz de Villanueva (1564-1654) in Seville. Three years later, he was already working as a master artist in Llerena na Extremadura, where he lived for more than ten years, sending numerous works to important religious institutions of Seville. He then moved to Seville in 1629, invited by the city to work at the service of powerful monastic congregations, becoming the interpreter of their dramatic spirituality. His severe images, though inspired by the realism of Caravaggio (1571-1610), represent the enlightenment of religious ecstasy and mystical vision; the figures are often isolated in an indeterminate space that makes them more striking and intense through the energetic relief of the shapes chiseled on the dark background by violent contrasts of light.
"Apparition of Jesus Child to St. Anthony of Padua" (?) (1627-30) is an example of Zurbarán’s tenebrist style: the gloomy scene is lit by a single source of light. The identity of the saint portrayed is not known for certain, with opinions divided between St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua. The open book suggests that the saint, an intellectual, was interrupted during his studies by the divine vision of the baby Jesus among the clouds. The white lily, symbolizing purity, demonstrates the spiritual nature of his readings.
Adoration of the Shepherds (1630 - 1635) by Bartolomeo Passante ou Mestre da Anunciação aos PastoresMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
There are conflicting opinions regarding the authorship of the painting Adoration of the Shepherds (1630-35). When it became a part of the MASP collection in the 1950s, it was attributed to Spanish painter José de Ribera (1591-1652). Later, following an exchange of correspondence between the museum’s then director Pietro Maria Bardi and specialists in Italian and Spanish art, the attribution of the painting’s authorship was changed to Bartolomeo Passante, a Neapolitan collaborator of Ribera. Some historians disagreed with this theory, claiming that some of the works originally attributed to Passante were actually created by an anonymous painter in Naples, the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, and the painting in the MASP collection was one of them. In 1969, Roberto Longhi (1890-1970), a historian specializing in Italian art, wrote an article in which he asserted that the entire set belonged to Bassante, but the issue remains unsettled.
The work in the MASP collection is considered one of the artist’s best paintings, in which he made use of tenebrism, a technique from the baroque period in which a single light source is utilized to highlight the shadows and add drama and tension to paintings dominated by dark tones.
In spite of the seriousness and gravity of the composition, the lightness of the angels surrounding Jesus confers an intimate, familiar ambiance to the work, lending this painting of a sacred theme an air of everyday life.
Portrait of a Young Man with a Golden Chain (Self-Portrait with a Golden Chain) (circa 1635) by Rembrandt van Rijn e ateliêMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Rembrandt van Rijn and studio
After maintaining a studio in Leiden for five years, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, where he gained fame and fortune as an artist, especially by his painting of portraits for private collections. His success as a painter was so great that, around 1633, he commanded one of the greatest studios in Europe, in a four-story palace in downtown Amsterdam. In the 1640s, a series of personal and professional misfortunes led Rembrandt into a gradual decline. He then abandoned the careful finishing and correction characteristic of his first style to dedicate himself to a profound study of light, which resulted in a sublime emotional intensity in his paintings and prints.
Portrait of a "Young Man with a Golden Chain" (Self-Portrait with a Golden Chain) (c. 1635) is traditionally considered a self-portrait, although contemporary criticism tends to contest this hypothesis. Despite the opinion of specialists that the work was made by the “circle” of the Dutch master, it has long been attributed to Rembrandt himself, based on different documents, replicas and graphic records going back to the 17th century. The presence of a signature visible only in infrared light and a pentimento (correction) at chest level may reinforce the idea of a direct intervention by the painter.
Captain Andries van Hoorn (1638 - 1638) by Frans HalsMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The earliest reports about the life of Frans Hals tell that his family moved from Antwerp to Harlem, in the Netherlands, in 1585, fleeing from the Spanish occupation and the fierce persecution of Protestants by Catholics. Hals entered the city’s artists guild in 1610 and quickly gained recognition and a large clientele among the well-heeled bourgeois. His naturalist bent was manifested in his depiction of everyday scenes and in individual and group portraits, his specialty, executed either on commission or because of his interest in the character and physiognomy of the models.
Hal’s technique aims to convey the theme in a straightforward and lively way with quick, irregular brushstrokes that reflect the artist’s emotional state. This pictorial procedure was an important legacy for 19th-century modern realism. The portraits Captain Andries van Hoorn and Maria Pietersdochter Olycan, the captain’s second wife, were produced on the occasion of their marriage, in 1638. They were both members of the wealthy beer-producing families of Haarlem.
Maria Pietersdochter Olycan (1638 - 1638) by Frans HalsMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
In the portraits, there is precision in the details along with a certain informality in the presentation of the characters, which in no wise compromises the evidence of their social position. Captain Andries was also portrayed by Hals in the canvas representing the banquet of the officers of the St. Adrian Militia (1633), who were elected among the notables of the city of Harlem, and was the city’s mayor in 1655.
Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman (William Howard, Viscount of Stafford?) (1638 - 1640) by Anthony van DyckMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Anthony van Dyck
A very precocious talent, already at the age of 16 Van Dyck opened his own studio; by 1618 he was guild master of Antwerp and a collaborator of Rubens (1577-1640), the most renowned painter of that time. After a brief stay in England (1620), he went to Italy, where he remained from 1621 to 1627, studying especially the works by Titian (1488/90-1576). He became one of the favorite portraitists of the Genoa aristocracy, but also worked in Rome, Florence and Palermo. After returning to Antwerp (1628), he was a painter of Archduchess Isabella, competing with Rubens, his former mentor. In 1632, Van Dyck was invited by Charles I, King of England, to be the painter of the court. He stayed in England until his death there, leaving a great legacy and founding a new tradition of portrait painting.
Although there is no consensus about the identity of the model in MASP’s painting, it is believed to be William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford (1614-1680), based on a replica of the portrait conserved in the collection of Cardiff Castle and in the 1833 print with the inscription “William Howard viscount Stafford, from the original of Van Dyck in the collection of Marquis of Bute.”
River Scene with a Raft Transporting Cattle (circa 1650) by Salomon van RuysdaelMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Salomon van Ruysdael
Salomon van Ruysdael was one of the pioneers of naturalist landscape painting in the Netherlands in the first half of the 17th century. He was specialized in scenes of rivers and estuaries, as well as seascapes, composed on the basis of real elements typical of the Dutch landscape, repudiating the previous conventions such as the artificial compositions of the classical Italian and French landscape painters. Ruysdael’s paintings are peopled by fishermen, country folk and merchants.
In River Scene with a Raft Transporting Cattle (c. 1650), a boat is transporting a group of seven people and five cows, while, at the left, a man is walking along a riverside path.
In the background, we see what appears to be a city, with a tower and a group of boats. The zigzagging line formed by the twisted tree on the riverbank and the reflection of its trunk in the water organize the painting’s composition, making it more dynamic. The tree’s placement in the foreground also lends depth to the landscape. The color palette — in blue, gray, brown and yellow — is darker in the lower left corner but gradually becomes lighter toward the right, where sky and water merge in the far distance.
Landscape with Boa Constrictor (circa 1660) by Frans PostMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
From a family of artists, Frans Post was a painter, draftsman and printmaker. He arrived in Brazil in 1637, at the age of 25, as a member of John Maurice of Nassau’s entourage during the Dutch occupation in Pernambuco (1630-54). He lived in Recife until 1644, a period in which he produced 18 landscapes, though the whereabouts of only seven of them are known today. He was, therefore, the first European painter to depict the Brazilian landscape based on direct observation. After his return to the Netherlands, Post continued to produce paintings on Brazilian themes based on sketches and drawings made during his sojourn. MASP possesses five works by the artist, including Landscape with Boa Constrictor (c. 1660).
In the scene, the snake is seen at the right, as though it were waiting for a prey; the roofless church recalls the destruction of the Catholic religious buildings of the city by the Dutch.
This painting is one of the best examples of Post’s painstaking care in portraying aspects of colonial life as well as Brazilian flora and fauna.
Sleeping Diana (1690 - 1700) by Giuseppe MazzuoliMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
A member of a family of artists and architects, Giuseppe Mazzuoli was introduced to sculpting by his brother, Giovanni Antonio (1644-1706), in Siena. In his early youth, he moved to Rome, where he underwent further training at the studio of Ercole Ferrata (1610-1686). His first commission, Dead Christ (1671), made for the church of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, caught the attention of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), with whom he later worked on several projects in Rome. Of the sculptors associated with this phase of Italian baroque, Mazzuoli was the one who most assimilated Bernini’s characteristics, especially the rendering of movement and the dramatic treatment of the garments. The sculpture in the MASP collection, formerly attributed to Bernini by some historians, was produced by a middle-aged Mazzuoli for the Palazzo Barberini, in Rome.
"Sleeping Diana" (1690-1700) is a variation on the ancient images which depicted a nymph, a figure from Greco-Roman mythology associated with inspiration and the arts, slumbering beside a fountain.
Its earliest precedent is the sculpture Sleeping Ariadne (1512), associated with a sarcophagus that served as a fountain in the Belvedere Courtyard at the Vatican. The half-moon characteristic and the bow and arrows strapped to her back, seen in the sculpture, are features of the iconography of Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting and the moon.
Landscape with shepherds (1710 - 1730) by Alessandro MagnascoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Alessandro Magnasco, also known as Il Lissandrino, was educated in Genoa, Milan, and Florence, where he lived at the Medici court. His contact with the depictions of popular and theatrical themes by the Nordic artists active in Italy inspired the extravagant and nearly caricatural character of his typically awkward figures of friars, acrobats, fighters in the midst of landscapes often characterized by blustery weather or the presence of ruins.
The work in the MASP collection, "Landscape with Shepherds" (1710-30), was painted with quick brushstrokes, indicating an intuitive process, and features little variation between the tones of green and brown, in opposition to the contrast of the colors in the sky with that of the vegetation. The leaning tree at the center of the painting adds drama and movement to nature, dominating the natural landscape and relegating the group of people around it to a supporting role. The tree’s branches and leaves mix with the outline of the clouds, which in turn blend with the contours of the mountains in the background. Magnasco innovated by using nature as the central element in the painting, rather than as a mere distant backdrop to human narratives, and he seems to anticipate the notion of the sublime, a feature of 19th-century romanticism, which sought beauty in the grandiosity and violence of nature.
Gathering in a Park (1719 - 1720) by Jean-Baptiste PaterMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Pater was the favorite student of the more renowned painter of French rococo, Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), continuing his style and his themes, particularly the so-called “gallant parties.” After the death of King Louis XIV (1638-1715), the French aristocracy, tired of the luxury and rigid ceremony of the court, turned to pastoral literature as a new ideal of behavior that was less affected and pompous, but no less sophisticated. Inspired by country life, villas and parks were constructed alongside the large residences for the holding of country-style parties and elegant spectacles with scenery inspired by the mythological Arcadia, with pavilions and temples dedicated to the gods of love. With his master Watteau, Pater was outstanding for painting these themes and was admitted to the Académie Royale in 1728. Besides being a great colorist draftsman, Pater was famous for his painted portraits.
MASP’s work, "Gathering in a Park" (1719-20), epitomizes the model of arcadist fantasy, with an exaltation of nature similar to that seen in much of Pater’s work. The base of the triangular composition is the group of fancily dressed young men and women, distracted with their petty pleasures.
Although the light in the landscape is diffuse, there is a nearly theatrical focus on the group in the foreground, with a highlight on their brightly colorful clothing. It is one of the rare paintings signed by Pater, amidst the large, often repetitive production of his studio.
Portrait of Auguste Gabriel Godefroy (1741) by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon ChardinMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Chardin was one of the great names of 18th-century French painting, treating the themes of daily life in a profound and poetic way. In 1728, he was conferred the title of still-life painter at the Académie Royale de Paris. With time, the artist began to produce genre paintings, made for the houses of the nobility and the bourgeois — portraits, domestic scenes, children or couples in love. The boy in Portrait of Auguste Gabriel Godefroy (1741) was a son of a jeweler and banker for whom Chardin made many other works.
In this scene, he is watching a spinning top, distracted from his studies, represented by the books, the inkwell and parchment on the desk. The extraordinary light that falls on the boy traces a diagonal line on the wall in the background, lending volume to the composition.
The half-open drawer in the foreground, with a chalk holder, adds depth to the desk. The theme of childhood education was recurrent in the French painting of the period.
The spinning top can be seen as symbolizing the changeable nature of children and of luck, as well as the instable balance between the various forces that govern human destiny, perfectly represented in the boy’s object of amusement.
Drinkstone Park (The Woods of Cornard) (1747) by Thomas GainsboroughMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Madame Louise-Elisabeth, Duchess of Parma - The Earth (1750) by Jean-Marc NattierMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
At the age of 15, Nattier was already an awardwinning artist who received many private commissions. In 1718, after portraying Catherine the Great (1729- 1796), Empress of Russia, he turned down her invitation to stay in her country as a member of the St. Petersburg court. He was then accepted as a painter of historic themes at the Académie Royale de Paris.
His portraits reiterate the power of the nobility over the plebeians through symbolism and the ostentation of wealth, evidenced by fabrics such as colorful satin and velvet, which were very expensive and worn to demarcate social roles.
Madame Anne-Henriette de France - The Fire (1751) by Jean-Marc NattierMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
MASP’s paintings bring together four of the daughters of King Louis XV. Each one of them is associated to one of the four elements, identified by the attributes of the globe, the stove, the peacock and the amphora. The eldest, Louise-Elisabeth, is associated with the earth; Anne-Henriette, with fire; Marie-Adélaïde, with air; Marie-Louise-Thérèse-Victoire, with water.
Madame Marie-Adélaïde de France - The Air (1751) by Jean-Marc NattierMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The works decorated a room at the Palace of Versailles, the residence of the French court at that time.
Madame Maria-Thérèse-Victoire de France - The Water (1751) by Jean-Marc NattierMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Education is Everything (1775 - 1780) by Jean-Honoré FragonardMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Fragonard was a student of Chardin (1699-1779), who inspired him especially to paint scenes of everyday life. Even though he participated in various art salons, he did not manage to be accepted as an official artist. He preferred themes from daily Life: couples in love, domestic scenes and children, a sort of painting which was to become common in the following century. After the French Revolution (1789), Fragonard quit his work at the Asemblée Nationale to flee from the political climate in Paris. MASP’s two works date from before that time.
In "Education Is Everything" (1775-80), the artist treats the theme of education more informally than did Chardin. In the central, well-lit part of the scene, a young lady plays with two dogs to entertain the children. One of the dogs is wearing a red mantlewhile holding a corn stalk in its paws, while the other is wearing a wide-brimmed black hat, as though ridiculing the ostentatious habits of the aristocracy, against which France was to rise some years later.
Portrait of a Lady with a Book by a Fountain (1785) by Antonie VestierMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Sent to Paris to study in the studio of painter Jean‑ Baptiste Pierre (1714-1789), he married the daughter of the enamel miniaturist Antoine Reverend and continued the activity of his father-in-law for some time. In 1776, he traveled to London, where he most likely saw works by portraitists such as Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). Back in Paris, he became outstanding as a miniaturist and portrait painter. He was admitted to the Académie Royale in 1785, and the following year was appointed as the king’s painter. But the changes in taste brought about by the Revolution left the artist at the fringe of the Paris art world.
"Portrait of a Lady with a Book by a Fountain" (c. 1785) exemplifies the taste of the time for portraiture inserted in the landscape, with straightforward representation of distinction and social privilege — the book indicates education, and the white skin, little exposed to the sun, is a symptom of idleness, both symbols of the dominant classes of that era.
Portrait of the Countess of Casa Flores (1790 - 1797) by Francisco Goya y LucientesMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Portrait of Ferdinand VII (1808) by Francisco Goya y LucientesMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Virgin of the Blue Veil (1827) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique IngresMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Ingres was a student of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), a central figure of French neoclassicism. He became established as a painter while still young, receiving important official commissions from the Napoleonic regime. In 1806, he traveled to Rome, where he remained until 1820, when he moved to Florence. In Italy, he became one of the most highly demanded portraitists. Returning to Paris in 1824, he became recognized as the leader of the French classical school. Elected as a member of the academy, he opened a prestigious studio and during his life was considered by the official art world as the greatest French artist. His countless drawings show how Ingres possessed an enormous erudition that ranged from the painting of Greek vases to mannerist art. He knew how to combine all these references in his compositions through drawing, conceived in a purely decorative way, that is, in accordance with the formal balance and without naturalist concerns.
Two of MASP’s works by Ingres, "The Blessing Christ" (1834) and "Virgin of the Blue Veil" (1827), present religious themes. Historically, the gestures of these figures refer to specific biblical narratives, but they also serve to instruct the faithful in their devotion.
The Blessing Christ (1834) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique IngresMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
At the outset of Christianity, the hands of Christ were portrayed opened and facing upward; it was how he taught the people to pray the Lord’s Prayer. For her part, Mary’s hands are held together, according to medieval tradition, expressing humility and submission.
Zélie Courbet (1847) by Gustave CourbetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Courbet was the leading proponent of the realist movement in 19th-century French painting. He painted things as he saw them: social themes, work in the countryside, raw, nonidealized portraits. He repudiated classicist painting, inspired by aesthetic models of antiquity. He also rejected the dramatic imagery of romanticism, which reflected the bourgeois aspirations and lifestyle. Courbet actively participated in the democratic revolutionary movements of 1848 and in the Paris Commune (1871), the first attempt at socialist government after the defeat of France in the war against Prussia (1869-70). In line with his ideals, his paintings began to reflect his persistent stance against the political situation and the art proposed at the official salons, culminating in an 1858 exhibition entitled Pavillon du Réalisme, featuring the artist’s rejected works. Besides the work on display, "Zélie Courbet" (1847), MASP possesses the painting "Juliette Courbet "(1873-74). The models were the artist’s sisters, painted 30 years apart. The portraits exemplify the artist’s typical dark surfaces, with a predominance of grays and sepias together with a few colored details to highlight elements in the background. The girl’s expression is informal and full of feeling, without the traditional idealization of female beauty.
Paulo Afonso Waterfall (1850) by E.F.SchuteMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
E. F. Schute
The painting by E. F. Schute in MASP’s collection possibly derives from a photograph by August Riedel (1799-1883) published in the album "Viagem de SS. AA. Reaes Duque de Saxe e seu irmão Dom Luis Philippe ao interior do Brasil no ano de 1868" (Voyage of SS. AA. Reaes Duque de Saxe and his brother Dom Luis Philippe into the interior of Brazil in 1868).
There is no biographical information on the painter, who was perhaps an amateur. The influence of German romanticism can be perceived in his painting, which shows a strong concern in relation to the sublime and majestic aspects of nature.
The Spring - Eurydice Bitten by a Serpent while Picking Flowers (Eurydice's Death) (1856 - 1863) by Eugène DelacroixMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
A scholar of the classics, Delacroix wrote about his work and that of other artists throughout his life, thus contributing to his stature as a proponent of romantic painting. He traveled to personally meet painter John Constable (1773-1837), in England, and to see the work of Francisco Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), in Spain. These references were fundamental for Delacroix to break free from the traditional rigor of French painting; rather than striving to create objectively precise depictions, his aim was to suggest sensations and feelings. The works by Delacroix in MASP’s collection were commissioned by French industrialist Jacques-Frédéric Hartmann (1822-1880) to decorate his residence.
In them, Delacroix associates the theme of the four seasons to Greco-Roman mythology. The same broad brushstrokes are used for the settings and the characters, and the movement is not only in the gestures and interaction, but in the rhythm of the brushstrokes themselves.
The Winter - Juno Beseeches Aeolus to Destroy Eneas' Fleet (1856 - 1863) by Eugène DelacroixMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The curves of the rocks, the billowing clouds, the vegetation and the waters seem to accompany the sinuosity of the bodies, imparting tension to the set.
The Autumn – Bacchus and Ariadne (1856 - 1863) by Eugène DelacroixMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
From a distance, the large-format canvases present the scenes in their totality, with a wealth of details.
From up close, each segment functions independently, highlighting the patches of color, especially the masses of ocher and red, and of green and blue.
The Summer - Diana Surprised by Actaeon (1856 - 1863) by Eugène DelacroixMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Two Heads (1858 - 1862) by Honoré DaumierMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Even though he had been trained in the refined art traditions taught at the Académie Suisse, in Paris, it was with his satiric drawings about politics and customs, published in the Republican newspapers La Caricature and Le Charivari, that Daumier gained renown, in the 1830s. His work coincides with the radical change of taste ushered in by the social transformations in France, resulting from the strengthening of the bourgeoisie and of the press as a medium for the dissemination of images and information. In 1860, he quit working for the newspapers to dedicate himself to painting. Daumier contributed greatly to the discussion about realist art, often painting themes taken from literature.
"Two Heads" (1858-62) was featured in a show of 98 works by Daumier, organized in 1878 by writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885) to help the artist in a period of financial difficulty. The painting seems to have been a fragment, part of a dramatic scene that lies outside the canvas. The two characters are looking toward the right corner, announcing an action or third element of which we see only a small splotch. Just one of the figures’ faces is visible, with an expression enhanced by quick, incisive brushstrokes, while the other is seen only in profile.
Angelica in Chains (1859) by Jean-Auguste Dominique IngresMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Ingres was a student of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), a central figure of French neoclassicism. He became established as a painter while still young, receiving important official commissions from the Napoleonic regime. In 1806, he traveled to Rome, where he remained until 1820, when he moved to Florence. In Italy, he became one of the most highly demanded portraitists. Returning to Paris in 1824, he became recognized as the leader of the French classical school. Elected as a member of the academy, he opened a prestigious studio and during his life was considered by the official art world as the greatest French artist. His countless drawings show how Ingres possessed an enormous erudition that ranged from the painting of Greek vases to mannerist art. He knew how to combine all these references in his compositions through drawing, conceived in a purely decorative way, that is, in accordance with the formal balance and without naturalist concerns.
This is the case of "Angelica in Chains" (1859), in which the artist modifies the proportions and the volumes of the body to achieve the desired dramatic effect. The artwork refers to the epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516), in which Ruggiero saves the heroine from a sea monster to which she had been offered in sacrifice.
The monster is blinded by a ray of light reflected from the hero’s magic shield. The pagan knight who saves Angelica thus wins her love.
Moema (1866) by Victor MeirellesMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Victor Meirelles was one of the artists responsible for the consolidation of historical painting during the reign of Dom Pedro II (1841-1889) and taught artists such as Eliseu Visconti (1866-1944) and Almeida Júnior (1850-1899). He was admitted to the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in 1847 and was awarded a travel grant to Europe in 1853, studying in Rome, Florence and Paris.
"Moema" (1866) presents the character of the same name from the epic poem Caramuru by Frei Durão (1722-1784), after she drowned while swimming after the ship carrying her lover, Diogo Álvares, who was returning to Portugal. Moema was a highly successful theme in the art, literature and music of that period.
The theme belongs to the tradition of Indianist romanticism, typical of that time, which sought to validate native themes in Brazil’s national history within an idealized view that glossed over the barbarity of the land’s process of colonization. In Moema, in which the title character is depicted like an Indian Venus, Meirelles recurred to the European theme of the female nude within a landscape under tragic circumstances.
The painting points to the contradiction between the image, constructed during the Empire, of the indigenous person as a hero of the nation, in counterpoint to the violence practiced against the native populations and their cultures.
The Negro Scipio (1866 - 1868) by Paul CézanneMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The son of a banker, Cézanne studied law in Aix, but following his first trip to Paris, in 1861, he decided to dedicate himself to painting after seeing the classical works in the Louvre, by Courbet (1819-1877) and Manet (1832-1883). Until the 1880s, his production possessed romantic lines, inspired above all by the lyricism and pictorial technique of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), an artist whom he admired from afar all his life. He participated, unsuccessfully, in the exhibitions of the impressionist group in 1874 and 1877, later withdrawing to Provence. Cézanne was much admired by a small group of young artists, even though he was unrecognized by the public and rejected at the official exhibitions. From 1899 until after his death, however, interest in his work grew, and he is now considered a cornerstone for the development of modern art.
The model for "The Negro Scipio" (1866-68) was one of the few black professionals in the studios of Paris. Interpreters of the work associate it to the abolitionist debates of the second half of the 19th century and compare it to the well-known American photograph The Scourged Back (1863), in which the slave Gordon appears in a similar position, with scars from whiplashes.
Paul Alexis Reading a Manuscript to Zola (1869 - 1870) by Paul CézanneMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Bather with a Griffon Dog - Lise on the Bank of the Seine (1870) by Pierre-Auguste RenoirMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Renoir met Claude Monet (1840-1926) in his youth, when he attended studios and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. With Camille Pissarro (1830- 1903) and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), they formed the first nucleus of impressionists, who renovated the technique and themes of painting of that time. In the group, Renoir was known for his scenes of Parisian cafés and bars as well as for his female nudes. He was interested in the depiction of the human figure, unlike the others, who were more concerned about capturing the visual sensation produced by the motif in the open air. The twelve paintings by Renoir in MASP’s collection cover almost all of the artist’s career, from his youth to his old age. The works from the beginning of Renoir’s career in the collection include Bather with a Griffon Dog — Lise on the Bank of the Seine (1870).
Before the first impressionist exhibition (1874), the painting anticipated resources such as the use of pure colors to create light and shadow, coupled with loose brushstrokes in the grass and trees.
The artist was perceptibly inspired by Courbet’s (1819-1877) female nudes, as well as the painting of modern themes by Manet (1832-1883). The model is Lise, the painter’s first lover, who posed for various of his works.
The Amazon - Portrait of Marie Lefébure (1870 - 1875) by Edouard ManetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Born into an affluent bourgeois family, Manet began life by studying literature and taking up a career as a naval officer. After a trip to Rio de Janeiro aboard a merchant ship, he finally convinced his family to give in to his aspirations to become an artist. Believing that the renovation of painting should be based on the study of tradition, he copied the masterpieces of the Louvre and traveled to Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. A precursor of impressionism, Manet was a key figure in the transition from academic art to modern art. He was a shaker and mover of the artistic scene in the second half of the 19th century in Paris, and an interlocutor of writers and poets such as Émile Zola (1840-1902) and Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867).
The characters in his paintings stare stiffly at the spectator, seemingly in defiance of tradition and the critics. In The Amazon — Portrait of Marie Lefébure (1870-75), there is a strong contrast between the dilute, faded greens in the background and tingeing the women’s clothing, as compared to the dark, dense and compact volume of her garment.
The horse is turned toward the background of the canvas, as though it were going to penetrate it. The amazon is looking outward, while she rides and waves a baton. The object in her hand looks like it was painted twice — a pentimento (“change of mind” in Italian). In general, these corrections are hidden, but in this Manet case uses it to add a sensation of movement to the composition.
Gypsy with a Mandolin (1874) by Jean-Baptiste-Camille CorotMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Corot painted prolifically, taking many trips to fuel his painting, which transformed constantly without rigidly adhering to any specific style. MASP has five works by the artist: three portraits, a landscape and a still life.
In Gypsy Girl with a Mandolin (1874), a portrait of Swedish soprano Christine Nilsson (1843-1921), the ochers and reds evince a calculated sobriety.
The Artist - Portrait of Marcellin Desboutin (1875) by Edouard ManetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen (1880) by Edgar DegasMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Pink and Blue – The Cahen d´Anvers Girls (1881) by Pierre-Auguste RenoirMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Renoir met Claude Monet (1840-1926) in his youth, when he attended studios and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. With Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), they formed the first nucleus of impressionists who renovated the technique and themes of painting of that time. In the group, Renoir was known for his scenes of Parisian cafés and bars as well as for his female nudes. He was interested in the depiction of the human figure, unlike the others, who were more concerned about capturing the visual sensation produced by the motif in the open air. The twelve paintings by Renoir in MASP’s collection cover almost all of the artist’s career, from his youth to his old age. "Pink and Blue — The Cahen d’Anvers Girls" (1881) portrays the girls of the Cahen d’Anvers family.
During the exhibition of this work at Fondation Pierre Gianadda, in Switzerland, in 1987, the cruel destiny of Elisabeth, the “blue girl,” was revealed. While visiting the show, a nephew of hers recognized her image and wrote to MASP telling how, in 1944, she had died on a train on the way to the Auschwitz concentration camp, at the age of 69.
This painting is outstanding in the overall set due to the exceptional detailing of the dresses, including the white reliefs that form the flounces and the glimmering effect obtained in representing the sheeny satin.
Mr. Eugène Petuiset, the Lion Hunter (1881) by Edouard ManetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Born into an affluent bourgeois family, Manet began life by studying literature and taking up a career as a naval officer. After a trip to Rio de Janeiro aboard a merchant ship, he finally convinced his family to give in to his aspirations to become an artist. Believing that the renovation of painting should be based on the study of tradition, he copied the masterpieces of the Louvre and traveled to Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. A precursor of impressionism, Manet was a key figure in the transition from academic art to modern art. He was a shaker and mover of the artistic scene in the second half of the 19th century in Paris, and an interlocutor of writers and poets such as Émile Zola (1840-1902) and Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). The characters in his paintings stare stiffly at the spectator, seemingly in defiance of tradition and the critics.
"Mr. Eugène Pertuiset, the Lion Hunter "(1881), one of the largest canvases painted by Manet, was recently restored. The kneeling man holding the gun, a personal friend of the artist, was a collector and dealer of art and guns, a lover of the night and of hunting. This work is a parody of the romantic heroes, the antithesis of the fierce fights between men and animals painted by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). It also satirizes the decorous and artificial gestures of the painting of the salons.
Cliffs in L´Estaque (1882 - 1885) by Paul CézanneMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Four Ballet Dancer on Stage (1885 - 1890) by Edgar DegasMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Degas’s first references were Ingres (1780-1867) and Edouard Manet (1832-1883), who oriented his painting toward the representation of modern themes. After France’s defeat in the war against Prussia (1870-71) and the events of the Paris Commune (1871), he traveled to New Orleans, his mother’s city of birth. He returned to Paris in 1873 and, disappointed with the official salons, joined with a group of young artists who began to be known as impressionists. Degas played an important role in the organization of the group’s eight exhibitions, held between 1874 and 1886. He was little taken to plein-air painting, preferring to study the movement of the human figure and that of animals, while also pioneering the use of the optical resources of photography.
This is the case of "Four Ballerinas on the Stage" (1885-90): the shadow on the arm of the central dancer is made with blue marks;
the purple spots on her tutu highlight the pink hues and make them brighter by contrast;
part of the face is green, thus blurring the facial expression while lending prominence to the gesture.
Gun Salute on a Gala Day at the Rio de Janeiro Bay (1887) by João Batista CastagnetoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
João Batista Castagneto
Castagneto was a sailor, following in the footsteps of his father, with whom he moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1874. He studied under Victor Meirelles (1832- 1903) and George Grimm (1846-1887) at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes, where he enrolled in 1876, understating his age to circumvent the school’s age‑limit rules. He referred to himself as a mere “painter of boats,” painting seascapes, often in a makeshift studio set up on a boat.
He created impasto oil paintings with broad strokes nimbly applied to canvases or other rigid materials, often the covers of cigar boxes. His work represented a fresh approach in Brazilian painting, introducing a more sensitive, intuitive and modern approach. The painting Gun Salute on a Gala Day at the Rio de Janeiro Bay (1887) was the centerpiece of one of the controversies that marked his turbulent relationship with the Academia.
It was one of the artist’s most ambitious undertakings, a fact which nonetheless failed to save him from being barred from the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes for disrespecting the values espoused by the academics.
Girl with Flowers (1888) by Pierre-Auguste RenoirMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Young Woman With Book (Sem data/Undated) by José Ferraz de Almeida JuniorMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior
Self-taught until the age of 19, Almeida Júnior was later admitted to the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, where he studied under Victor Meirelles (1832-1903) and Jules Le Chevreul (1810-1872). His early paintings caught the attention of the Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-1891), who financed his studies in Paris. He was an outstanding student at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was taught by Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889). Almeida Júnior produced portraits, landscapes and seascapes. His best-known works depict everyday life in the countryside. The influence of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) and Millet (1814-1875) contributed to an emphasis on realism in his representation of nature and people.
Almeida Júnior’s work stands out in the panorama of 19th-century Brazilian culture for its representation of rural scenes that describe specifically Brazilian human types. MASP’s work is notable in the set, along with Caipira picando fumo [Caipira Cutting Tobacco] (1893) and Amolação interrompida [Interrupted Whetting] (1894), both of which belong to the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. The title of this work, Young Woman with Book (undated) is probably a misnomer. The cut of the hair, and the shirt open at the chest suggest that the subject is actually a teenage boy immersed in reverie while reading.
The Schoolboy (The Postman´s Son – Gamin au Képi) (1888) by Vincent van GoghMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh acquired an interest in painting while working for the art dealer Goupi, in the Netherlands and in London. He later dedicated himself to a religious career among the poor miners of Belgium, until being sent away for supporting the struggles of the workers. There, he began to paint and produced his first notable work, The Potato Eaters (1885). The following year, in Paris, he began to study impressionist technique and Japanese prints. He then moved to Arles, in the south of France, where he began a series of works with splendid lighting and vibrant colors. In this period, he suffered psychic disturbances and compulsory internments in asylums, which culminated in his suicide in 1890. His letters are fundamental documents for the understanding of his work, especially those addressed to his brother, Theo van Gogh (1857-1891).
Study of the artist’s letters shows that model for "The Schoolboy (The Postman’s Son — Gamin au Képi) "(1888) is Camille, the son of postman Joseph Roulin. Various members of the Roulin family posed for Van Gogh in Arles.
The same yellow-and-red background was used in other works from this phase, including his self-portraits. The vibrant and saturated colors make the brushstrokes more evident.
The Stone Bench in the Asylum at Saint-Remy (1890) by Vincent van GoghMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
A Walk at Twilight (1889 - 1890) by Vincent van GoghMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Monsieur Fourcade (1889) by Henri de Toulouse-LautrecMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Born into a family of nobles, during his adolescence he suffered two serious accidents and a sickness that impaired his physical development and social life. He then decided to dedicate himself to painting, studying the works by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) and the use of color by the impressionists. The study of Japanese prints was very important for the artist, who admired their construction of space through curved lines and compact color fields. Like the members of the nabis group and of La Revue Blanche, he participated in the climate of modernism. He chose, however, to represent the bohemian social types of the cabarets, theaters and bordellos in the district of Montmartre, which he frequented and depicted with sympathy, irony and sometimes disillusion.
The figure in the foreground in the work Monsieur Fourcade (1889), named in the upper right corner of the work, was a Paris banker. The elegant character was portrayed at a spontaneous moment at a party or bar, as suggested by the costumes of the women at the left. The volumes of Fourcade’s face and his black clothes stand out in this scene, while the surroundings are made with quick strokes that accentuate the depth of the space. The parallel lines of color on the ceiling are different from the texture on the floor, on which the color and marks of the cardboard itself are prominent. This work was presented by Toulouse-Lautrec at the Salon des Indépendants in the year it was painted.
The Canoe on Epte (circa 1890) by Claude MonetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Monet was introduced to the painting of seascapes in the open air by Eugène Boudin (1824-1898). In the following years, he approached a group of young artists, enthusiastic about the painting of the Barbizon School as well as the work of Manet (1832-1883) and Courbet (1819-1877). His landscapes from the 1860s evince how Monet had begun to experiment with the representation of reflections of light on water, which led him to formulate a new relation between painting and nature, from which impressionism derived.
In fact,the name of the impressionist group came from the title of a painting by Monet, "Impression, Sunrise", presented at the group’s first show, in 1874. The two works in MASP’s collection were painted in Giverny, to where Monet moved in 1883.
Mrs. Cézanne in Red (1890 - 1894) by Paul CézanneMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The Arlesienne (1890) by Vincent van GoghMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The Flowered Dress (1891) by Edouard VuillardMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
From the age of 18 onward, Vuillard attended studios of artists. He was a friend of Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), with whom he participated, in 1891, in the first show of nabis, a group that rejected both academic tradition as well as the impressionist experiments. Nabis artists were influenced by the bold colors and patterns of Japanese prints. Vuillard preferred intimist scenes, and his paintings adopted decorative and chromatic solutions that anticipated the expressionism of the fauve artists.
"The Flowered Dress" (1891) shows a recurrent theme in his first artworks: his mother’s sewing workshop. There are three spatial delimitations in the room: the rear section with a fireplace, the walls in vertical lines, and the mirror at the back that reflects the woman in the foreground.
The scene is pervaded by tones of green, ocher and grayish lilac, but the focus is on the printed dress. In this way, Vuillard created an atmosphere not of identities (the faces lack detail), but rather of appearances created by color fields and the motifs on the clothes and in the setting.
The Wheel (1893) by Henri de Toulouse-LautrecMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The Great Pine (1890 - 1896) by Paul CézanneMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Poor Fisherman (1896) by Paul GauguinMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
In his infancy, he lived in Lima, Peru. After returning to France, he joined the navy between 1865 and 1871. He worked as a stockbroker and, at the same time, began to paint as an amateur. Between 1880 and 1886, he participated in shows by the impressionist group, having decided to dedicate himself exclusively to painting. He thus entered a period of financial and family problems that led him to seek an alternative to the tough reality of the modern metropolis. First, he went to study in the fields of Brittany. Later, he spent a season with Van Gogh in Provence, where a dramatic falling apart occurred between the two artists. From 1895 until his death, he lived in Tahiti and in the Marquesas Islands, from which he absorbed the aesthetic references that reoriented his style. This stylistic change should not be read as an escape toward the exotic, but rather as a conscious search for formal values different from Western art, which he sought for in countless sources and re-elaborated with great compositional skill.
This is the case of "Poor Fisherman" (1896), in which a nude subject is leaning on a canoe drinking from a gourd and observing the sea and the dark clouds. The pose could derive from an Egyptian relief at Abydos Temple, of which he had a photograph in his private collection.
Self-Portrait (Near Golgotha) (1896) by Paul GauguinMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Everlasting spring (circa 1897) by Auguste RodinMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Rodin was the first sculptor to experiment with the novelties that marked the passage between academic and modern sculpture: the abolishment of the pedestal; a preference for suggestive forms, without exact definition of the details; the mixing between finished and rough areas, seeking to obtain effects of lighting on the surfaces akin to those of impressionist painting. After his first study trip to Italy, in 1876, he showed the sculpture L’ ge d’airain [The Age of Bronze], which sparked an intense debate in the newspapers: in light of the work’s impressive realism - more than in any work ever seen before - the artist was accused of having used molds taken directly from the body of a living model. In 1880, Rodin conceived the set of sculptures of The Gates of Hell, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (1265-1321). Meditation (after 1897) derives from a figure created as part of the finishing in the upper portion of that work. It was successively reused for the tomb of poet Victor Hugo (1802-1885) and re-elaborated in a larger format with the title Inner Voice.
The piece in MASP’s collection is part of the series of twelve bronze replicas made by the Alexis Rudier Foundry. The other sculpture, Everlasting Spring (after 1897), has also been called Zephyrus (god of the west wind in Greek mythology) and Cupid and Psyche. Due to its great success, the work was replicated in marble and bronze. In 1898, Rodin sold the scale models and the reproduction rights of the sculpture to the Ferdinand Barbedienne Foundry.
Meditation (após 1897 - após 1897) by Auguste RodinMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904) by Pablo PicassoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Picasso’s work is considered crucial for 20th-century art. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Barcelona in 1895. He participated in the Catalan modernist movement. In 1904 he moved definitively to Paris. His studio on Rue Ravignan became a meeting point for the artists and intellectuals of that time. In the works of his first Parisian period, divided between the blue phase and the pink phase, the artist mainly depicted the life of poor and marginalized people with simplified shapes and spatial constructions inspired by Cézanne (1839-1906), Gauguin (1848-1903) and Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). Through these examples and through reference to the culture of the peoples of Africa and Oceania, Picasso developed an original formal synthesis between the object and its surroundings, which culminated in the creation of cubism with the work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).
"Portrait of Suzanne Bloch" (1904) belongs to his so-called blue phase, from Picasso’s first years in Paris. With a frugal color palette, he sought to fuse figure and background. This unity became one of the dominant motifs in cubism. The model was a lyrical singer born into a family of great musicians. She attended the artistic circles of Paris and Picasso’s studio. Among the last paintings of the blue phase, the portrait was preceded by a drawing made in pen and ink and gouache, conserved in the Neubury Coray Collection in Ascona, Switzerland.
Iracema (1909) by Antonio ParreirasMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
As a child, Antonio Parreiras was sent by his family, which did not approve of his artistic bent, to a boarding school named Liceu Popular de Niterói. In 1882, after his father’s death, Parreiras enrolled at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro. Two years later, he left the Academia to participate in the open painting course given by Georg Grimm (1846-1887) in Niterói. His first exhibition was held in 1886. He traveled to Europe where he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, returning to Brazil to serve as a professor of landscape painting at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, a position which he later gave up to found the Escola do Ar Livre. Known as a landscape painter, his main subjects being the countryside, tropical forests and seascapes, Parreiras also developed a repertoire of portraits, nudes and historical scenes, as is the case of Iracema (1909), which is part of the MASP collection.
In this painting, the artist depicted the denouement of the novel of the same name by José de Alencar (1829-1877) in 1865. Iracema, the indigenous heroine, is depicted in her suffering after being abandoned by her European lover. The figure derives from the paintings of the penitent Mary Magdalene in the desert and does not present indigenous features. The choice of these models indicates the tragic and violent character of the clashing between the colonizer and the colonized during the formation of Brazil.
Bust of a Man (The Athlete) (1909) by Pablo PicassoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
The Student (1915 - 1916) by Anita MalfattiMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Anita Malfatti was one of the few female artists to play a central role in Brazilian modernism. She studied painting in Berlin (1910-14) under Lovis Corinth (1858-1925) and in New York (1915-16) under Homer Boss (1882-1956). The German element of her background and her contact with radical expressionist figuration allowed the artist to make a more intuitive and bold use of color, setting herself apart from so many other Brazilian artists who were trained within the molds of Parisian cubism. Upon her return to São Paulo, she held two of the first exhibitions of modern painting, which received some enthusiastic reviews along with some harshly critical ones, as exemplified in the article Paranoia ou mistificação? by Monteiro Lobato (1882-1948). Despite the impact that this text had on her production, Malfatti was one of the creators and most outstanding participants of the Modern Art Week of 1922, in São Paulo, the inaugurall moment of modernism in Brazil.
In "The Student" (1915-16), in MASP’s collection, the brushstrokes are large and pronounced. The cooler tones of green and purple contrast with the red and yellow of the skin and shirt. The draping and the folds of the fabric intensify the curves of the body, reinforcing the character’s relaxed, carefree expression.
The artist’s technique with quick brushstrokes and dilute, dissonant paints in both the figure and the background make this one of the most significant and innovative works of Brazilian art from that time.
Portrait of Leopold Zborowski (1916 - 1919) by Amedeo ModiglianiMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Before moving to Paris in 1906, Modigliani studied in the academies of Florence and Venice. In the French capital, he lived in the district of Montmartre, which was also home to many other artists including Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), whom Modigliani became friends with. In 1909, he met Roman sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), an influence that led him to dedicate himself exclusively to sculpture until 1914, when he returned to painting. Modigliani was an alcoholic who lived in poverty, dying at the age of 36 from consumptive meningitis. In the context of the School of Paris, he developed a style that approached cubism, with figures that tend toward geometric stylization, as in the faces of African masks. His characters also bear a melancholy that recalls Italian Renaissance madonnas.
His portraits and nudes are painted on neutral, nearly monochromatic backgrounds, though marked by brushstrokes. The necks are elongated, the faces elliptical, and the lines delicate.
Lunia Czechowska (circa 1918) by Amedeo ModiglianiMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
MASP’s six paintings, all made between 1915 and 1919, entered the museum’s collection from 1950 to 1952. The artworks include Portrait of Leopold Zborowski (1916-19), a Polish poet who moved to Paris and later became Modigliani’s art dealer and friend.
The Plaster Torso (1919) by Henri MatisseMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Matisse studied at various art academies in Paris, but found his style beginning in 1895 together with a group of painters who became known as les fauves (“the wild beasts” in French), due to the negative public and critical reception of his work shown at the 1905 Salon d’Automne. Fauvist painting is characterized by everyday themes, the stylization and simplification of shapes, rupture from the classical perspective, the absence of gradation between hues, and the use of vibrant colors.
In "The Plaster Torso" (1919), the objects in the foreground dialogue with those in the background: the torso on the table has the same pose as the woman in the painting on the wall; the blue-and-white curtain lends continuity to the motif of the flower arrangement; the table, which confers a sense of depth to the setting, is opposed to the chair at the left.
Thus, all the elements in the scene seem to fuse into a sinuous movement aimed at achieving compositional and chromatic balance.
Nudes (1919) by Suzane ValadonMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
At the age of 15, besides her work as a waitress in the bars of Montmartre, Suzanne Valadon became a model for artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919). At seventeen, upon the birth of her son, painter Maurice Utrillo (1883–1955), of unknown paternity, she began to draw. Upon seeing her drawings, Renoir introduced her as an artist to the art world. She was the first woman to show her works at the Salon des Beaux-Arts de Paris, in 1894. On that occasion, painter Edgar Degas (1834–1917) bought some of her works and encouraged her to work with printmaking, opening the doors of his own studio to her. After an unproductive period of fifteen years, which coincided with her first marriage, Valadon became active again in 1909. She kept the saturated colors of her pastel drawings, while borrowing themes from Degas such as bathers and reclining nudes. In 1924, she took part in exhibitions of women artists in Paris, placing her work back into the spotlight.
In her work in the MASP collection, "Nudes" (1919), one woman is reading, lying face down in the grass, while the other one sits above her, arranging her hair while her foot toys with a yellow shoe between the prone women’s legs.
Their pink and yellow body tone, coupled with their outlines, thrusts the bathers into the foreground, above the swathes of green grass, vegetation, and the masonry of a low wall.
Interior with Indigents (1920) by Lasar SegallMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Segall was greatly influenced by German expressionism. In 1913, he briefly visited Brazil, holding the first exhibition of avant-garde painting in São Paulo, which received positive reviews from the critics. In 1923, he moved definitively to the city. The house where he lived with his wife, Jenny Klabin (1899-1967), today houses the Museu Lasar Segall, in Vila Mariana. Born in a period tormented by wars and religious and racial persecutions, his artworks depict the suffering of common people, victims of historical conflicts.
The painting "Interior de indigentes" [Interior with Indigents] (1921) uses gloomy colors to portray the miserable conditions of one of the many families of peasants and factory workers soon after World War I (1914-18). In the foreground, a woman is holding a baby; in the background, a man is seated at a table.
The lighting is bluish, nocturnal. As also seen in paintings by Marc Chagall (1887-1985), another artist from a Jewish background, the geometricized decomposition of the form is used to describe the human condition. The faces are large, as though to emphasize the expression of anguish present throughout the scene. One of the sides of the woman resembles an old lady: there are wrinkles above that eye and her hair on that side is white.
Japanese Brigde Over the Water-Lily Pond in Giverny (1920 - 1924) by Claude MonetMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Nude Boy and Turtle (1923) by Vicente do Rego MonteiroMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Vicente do Rego Monteiro
Vicente do Rego Monteiro began his art training at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes do Rio de Janeiro. After living in Paris between 1911 in 1914, he returned to Rio, fleeing from World War I (1914- 18). During his stay in Europe he had absorbed references to cubist art, with its interest in synthesizing shapes and articulating figuration with geometry. Back in Brazil, Monteiro found a correspondence to this interest in Marajoaran art — i.e., the art of the precolonial indigenous inhabitants of Marajó Island, at the mouth of the Amazon River. To this end, he thoroughly researched the collections of the Museu Nacional of Rio de Janeiro. These studies were also essential for his work outside of the visual arts: the artist wrote "Lendas, crenças e talismãs dos índios do Amazonas" (1921) [Legends, Beliefs and Talismans of the Amazon Indians] and made the masks and costumes for the ballet "Legendes indiennes de l’Amazonie" [Indigenous Legends of Amazonia] (1923).
In the painting "Nude Boy and Turtle" (1923), the stylized drawing of the faces of the two characters recalls a piece of pottery with details in high relief. Likewise, the brown tones correspond to the various tones of clay.
In some parts of the painting, Monteiro transformed shadow into light, to maintain the lines marked by the contrast between light and dark. The blending of European avant-garde elements with indigenous Brazilian art made Monteiro a prelude of the anthropophagic movement in Brazil, while also imparting to the history of modernism a poetics inspired in the culture of Amazonia.
Bowl with Pears (1923) by Fernand LégerMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
From a humble origin, Léger was an apprentice at an architectural firm before studying at the École des Arts Décoratifs and Académie Julian, both in Paris. He participated in the most intense burst of cultural effervescence in Paris’s Montparnasse District, benefiting greatly from rubbing shoulders with artists such as Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) and Marc Chagall (1887-1985), as well as poet Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961), who dedicated his 1919 poem Construction to him. Léger’s cubism was marked by strong lines that delineate the objects, filled by monochromatic areas and shadowing that lends them volume. These principles were set forth in his texts, which include L’esthétique de la machine [The Aesthetics of the Machine] (1923). Besides his forays into theater, in 1924 Léger produced Ballet mécanique [Mechanical Ballet], the first abstract film in the history of cinema, directed in partnership with Dudley Murphy (1897-1968), with the collaboration of Man Ray (1890-1976).
"Bowl with Pears" (1923), a work in MASP’s collection, dialogues with his experiments in these artistic languages, imparting a dynamic, geometric treatment to commonplace themes, blending industrial aesthetics and colors with daily life.
The thick outlines and the areas of uniform and shadowed colors recognizably influenced the work of Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral (1886‑1973), his student in Paris during the 1920s.
Five Girls from Guaratinguetá (1930) by Emiliano Di CavalcantiMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Emiliano Di Cavalcanti
In his youth, Di Cavalcanti attended studios and worked as an illustrator and art editor for periodicals such as the magazine Panoplia (1917). His drawings reveal a knowledge of the satirical illustrations by German expressionists. He was one of the main conceivers of the Modern Art Week of 1922, the inaugural moment of modernism in Brazil. The following year, as a correspondent of the newspaper Correio da Manhã (1901-74) he moved to Paris where he met cubist artists Fernand Léger (1881-1955) and Georges Braque (1882-1963), allowing himself to be influenced by their stylized drawing and geometric construction of the scenes. After his return to Brazil, as a member of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCB), Di Cavalcanti was a key figure in the artistic and intellectual debate that took place in São Paulo, especially through his activities in the Clube dos Artistas Modernos [Club of Modern Artists] (CAM), which he helped to found in 1932. He espoused figuration for conveying political and historical meanings, generally depicting Brazilian characters and themes.
"Five Girls from Guaratinguetá" (1930), from MASP’s collection, is one of his most important works. The five standing figures, with their different skin tones and variously colored dresses, occupy all the planes of the painting, each with her own character.
The areas of color on each body and in the scene are distinctly delineated, with gradations that lend them volume and depth. Anonymous, the girls from the interior city demonstrate how commonplace, popular themes held a central place in Brazilian art during modernism.
Reclined Female Nude (1932) by Flávio de CarvalhoMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Flávio de Carvalho
Flávio de Carvalho studied in France and in England, where he earned his degree in engineering and fine arts in Newcastle. Breaking away from the search for national identity that then guided many artists, his poetics was inspired by the writings of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and anthropologist James Frazer (1854-1941). Carvalho was a draftsman, painter, sculptor, scenographer, writer, cultural activist, engineer and architect. He was also one of the founders of the Clube de Artistas Modernos [Modern Artists Club], an important space for the discussion and dissemination of modern art in the early 1930s in São Paulo, and which held exhibitions of art produced by children and psychiatric patients. In the actions he called Experiências [Experiments/ Experiences], in many aspects he anticipated the performance art of the 1960s and 1970s: in one of them, he paraded publicly dressed in a skirt, short sleeves and wide-brim hat, calling it an outfit of work clothes designed for men in the tropics; in another, he walked through a religious procession, counter to the flow while wearing a hat, in defiance of the Catholic traditions.
In "Reclined Female Nude" (1932), the figure is constructed with pure color fields, some of them diluted to the point of being nearly transparent, organizing the canvas in geometric planes, each with its own texture. Only the body has curved lines, in the area of the hips, the reddish belly and the cheeks.
Guitar Player and Two Female Figures (1934) by Marie LaurencinMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Marie Laurencin entered Paris’s Académie Humbert in 1905, interested in painting porcelain. There, she studied under Georges Braque (1882-1963), who brought her to the studio of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), on Rue Ravignan, to broaden the possibilities of her painting. She attended the studio for several years, where she participated intensely in discussions on themes such as the surpassing of fauvism by cubism, especially after poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) presented her with a copy of his 1913 book "Les Peintres cubistes: méditations esthétiques" [Cubist Painters: Aesthetic Meditations]. Nevertheless, Laurencin never assimilated the cubist spirit; her painting is light and fluid. A recognized illustrator, she made the lithographs of the version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland published in France in 1930.
"Guitar Player and Two Female Figures" (1934) is exemplary of her palette of mild colors, marked by tones of pink and blue, with thin lines between each color field.
The scene of the outdoor musical get-together recalls a tradition of similar paintings spanning from Giorgione (c. 1477-1510) to Edouard Manet (1832-1883), revealing the presence of academic themes in Laurencin’s artistic vocabulary.
Composition - Interior with Female Figures (1936) by André LhoteMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
After attending the course in decorative sculpture in Bordeaux, Lhote dedicated himself to painting and moved to Paris. He participated in the 1906 Salon des Indépendants and in the 1907 Salon d’Automne, approximating the poetics of Cézanne (1839-1906). In 1912, he participated in the group La Section d’Or [The Golden Section], assimilating, above all, the constructive and geometric rigor of cubism. He published numerous historic and theoretic writings: Treatise on Landscape Painting (1938), Peinture d’abord (1942), Treatise on Figure Painting (1950). He gathered writings by artists in From the Palette to the Writing Desk (1946). He opened his own school, on Rue d’Odessa, in Paris, attended by the Brazilian painters Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973), Francisco Brennand and Antonio Gomide (1895-1967). His influence in Brazil is also perceptible in the public artworks by Di Cavalcanti (1897-1976) and Candido Portinari (1903-1962).
"Composition — Interior with Female Figures "(1936) evokes the theme of interior harem scenes dealt with by 19th-century orientalism, namely by Delacroix (1798-1863) in "Women of Algiers" (1834), in light of Cézanne’s bathers and the cubist experiments.
The Brazilian The Brazilian (1938) by Ernesto de FioriMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Ernesto De Fiori
Ernesto De Fiori’s art training started in Rome and Munich, where he studied drawing at the Königliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in 1903. From 1911 to 1914, he lived in Paris, where he created his first artworks. He enlisted in the German army in 1916 and, after serving as a soldier in World War I (1914-18) and acting as a correspondent for an Italian newspaper in Germany, he moved to Zurich in 1918. In 1936, De Fiori emigrated to Brazil, fleeing the rise of Nazi fascism. He resumed his journalistic work, writing for newspapers based in Brazil and other countries. His first paintings created in Brazil depicted local landscapes, scenes of forests, farms, rivers and scorched land. In the 1940s, he took an interest in urban scenes. Meanwhile, in his sculptures, he focused on roughly modeled human figures.
The BrazilianMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Esu EsuMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Most likely produced in the 20th century, this sculpture of Esu, from Nigeria, region of Oyo, is part of the collection of 55 artworks donated to MASP by professors Cecil and Manoel Robilotta in 2012. Of these, 49 were shown for the first time at the exhibition Do coração da África, held at the museum in 2014. The pieces were sculpted in countries of Yoruba culture. Currently, Nigeria and part of Benin, Ghana and Togo conserve this same cultural origin, which survived the geographic chopping up inflicted by the European colonization in the 19th century. When the enslaved Africans arrived in Brazil on the slave ships, they were separated and mixed among groups from different origins, in order to demobilize them. Despite this, the Yoruba culture was maintained and became rooted in various Brazilian cultural expressions, including culinary, vocabulary, and religions from an African origin, such as Umbanda.
EsuMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
This sculpture of Esu, made of wood and seashells, represents one of the archetypes of this divinity: a man playing a flute, with a phallic hairdo that culminates in the head of a serpent — his axé [vital force]. In the Yoruba cosmogony, Esu is one of the paths between aiê, our world, and orun, the world of the ancestors and spirits. In the rituals, first Esu is evoked, for him to seek the other Orishas; he is the messenger, who guards the houses and the cities.