Picture Gallery in Transformation

View of MASP's picture gallery in Paulista Avenue (1970) by Paolo GaspariniMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand


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.

View of MASP's picture gallery (2015) by Eduardo OrtegaMASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand

"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
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

Giovanni Bellini
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

Hans Memling
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

Raphael Sanzio
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

Jacopo Tintoretto
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
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

El Greco
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

Carlo Saraceni
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

Diego Velázquez
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

Bartolomeo Passante
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

Frans Hals
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

Frans Post
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
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

Jean-Baptiste Pater
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

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin
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

Jean-Marc Nattier
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

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
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

Antoine Vestier
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

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
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

Gustave Courbet
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

Eugène Delacroix
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

Honoré Daumier
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

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
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
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

Paul Cézanne
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

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
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

Édouard Manet
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

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
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

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
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.