This is Portinari’s home main room, with the furniture of that time, like the dining room table, chairs, some china, among others that decorated the atmosphere in houses in the Brazilian countryside in the beginning of the 20th century. Here, we can see the main set of mural paintings from the Museum, created by Portinari and by his friends. They used to get together in the house during Portinari’s first experiments with the mural painting technique. In Portinari’s work, we highlight Saint Francis Preaching to Birds, from 1934, 136 x 227 cm, and Sacred Heart of Jesus, discovered in the 1970s after one of the Museum’s renovations.
In several of his works, Portinari painted his house in the edge of the square where he played as a child, in Brodowski.
Right in front of the room, over the door, we see the tempera mural painting Saint George and the Dragon, 61 x 244 cm, dated 1943, the largest work in the collection of 16 mural paintings of the house. The image of Saint George appears on some moons in the landscapes portrayed by the painter, his notes, and poems—memories from his childhood.
In this room, we see a simple, intimate show of Portinari, the draughtsman, among them sketches for Saint George and the Dragon and the portrait of Rio de Janeiro socialite Vera Velloso. Internationally renowned for his great murals and oil paintings, Portinari was essentially a draughtsman. Since he was a child, in academic studies made during his time at the National School of Fine Arts, and through to the end of his life—when he was forbidden to paint due to being intoxicated by the paints—, Portinari impressed with his colored pencil or graphite drawings. In his set of works, among 5,000 paintings, frescoes, drawings, and etchings, Project Portinari found over 2,800 drawings made of various materials such as charcoal, Indian ink pen, Indian ink brush, crayon, gouache, and watercolor, as well as graphite and colored pencil. For his largest murals, there are hundreds of studies and sketches.
Here, in the Frescoes Room, we can understand a bit about frescoes, mural painting, and their techniques. Throughout his career, Portinari produced dozens of frescoes, from these ones in his own home to the 12 large, famous works in the Economic Cycles series at Gustavo Capanema Palace, former Ministry of Education of Brazil, and the series about the Americas at the Library of Congress, in Washington.
We arrive at the kitchen. As in most homes of Italian families, the kitchen was the heart, where everyone gathered for meals and talks by the wooden fire, with coffee and snacks. The original furniture and utensils also date back to the environment where Portinari lived for 15 years of his life, and to where he always returned to see family members and childhood friends. These itaboa straw chairs were built by his father, Batista Portinari.
We are finally in the artist’s workshop, with work objects such as paints, brushes, canvases, and easels sharing the space with the mural painting Escape to Egypt, dated 1937, done in fresco technique. Since the painter left Brodowski for Rio de Janeiro at 15, this workshop was set up for his production. It was here that Portinari painted when vacationing in Brodowski with his family. Lots of family portraits were done here, as well as works like Oxes and Scarecrow, from 1940, and Music Band, from 1957, and Brodowski Cobbler, from 1941, which is almost 2-meters high and is currently part of the Castro Maya Museums collection.
Since the house was built with no planning, as the family grew (Portinari was the second of 12 children), the rooms were scattered without much architectural logic. Leaving the workshop, we pass the bathrooms and, on turning left, we get to the Hall where the Portinari family tree is.
In 1940, Portinari had this chapel built for his grandmother, or nonna, a Catholic Italian who was very elderly and sick, no longer able to practice her faith in the church. On the chapel’s walls, Portinari painted his Nonna’s favorite saints, portrayed with the facial features of friends and relatives.
In front, behind the altar, Saint Luzia (similar to Aida Portinari) and Saint Peter (as Batista Portinari).
On the left wall, Saint John the Baptist (face based in Luiz Portinari), Meeting of Our Lady and Saint Isabel (inspired by Olga Portinari and Maria Victoria Portinari), and Jesus (one of the painter’s friends).
On the right wall, to the back, Saint Francis of Assisi (actually Paulino Portinari), the Sacred Family, and Saint Anthony of Padua.
Portinari had six sisters: Pelegrina (Táta), Maria, Ida, Julieta, Olga, and Ines. In this room, we can see the entire feminine atmosphere of the family. While Portinari drew and painted Brazil, his sisters dedicated themselves to sewing, embroidery, and manual laces. More than that, they held the close ties of the Italian immigrant family. Besides the original furniture, we can see some of the pieces made by the artisan hands of the Portinari women.
This is the artist’s room. Portinari was born at Santa Rosa Farm, where her parents were workers. In 1906, Mrs. Dominga and Mr. Batista move to this house in Brodowski to work in commerce. Portinari was 3. He lived here until, as a teenager, deciding to take the train to Rio to study painting. The painter’s furniture, clothes, shoes, bags, and personal objects, as well as photos from that time, help us tell Portinari’s story. Portinari always stayed in this room when returning to Brodowski to vacation with his family.
These gardens still hold elements of the time when the family lived there. The flowerbeds spelling out DIO (Italian for God) were projected by Portinari and the rose bushes were tended to with great care by Mrs. Dominga, his mother. Following one of the paths, on the left is Nonna’s Chapel.