Baroque in Brazil

The Baroque in Brazil was the dominant artistic style during most of the colonial period, finding an open ground for a rich flowering. It made its appearance in the country at the beginning of the 17th century, introduced by Catholic missionaries, especially Jesuits, who went there in order to catechize and accultate the native Indigenous peoples and assist the Portuguese in the colonizing process. In the course of the Colonial period, expressed a close association between the Church and the State, but in the colony there was not a court that would serve as a patron of the arts, the elites did not bother to build palaces, or to help sponsor the profane arts, but at the end of the period, and how the religion had a strong influence on the daily lives of everyone in this group of factors derives from the vast majority of the legacy of the Brazilian Baroque period, is the sacred art: statuary, painting, and the work of carving for the decoration of churches and convents, or for private worship.

The most typical characteristics of the Baroque, usually described as a dynamic, narrative, ornamental, dramatic style, cultivating contrasts and a seductive plasticity, convey a programmatic content articulated with exquisite rhetoric and great pragmatism. Baroque art was an art in functional essence, paying very well for the purposes it was put to serve: in addition to its purely decorative function, it facilitated the absorption of Catholic doctrine and traditional customs by neophytes, being an efficient pedagogical and catechetic instrument.

In literature, Bento Teixeira's epic poem "Prosopopeia" (1601) is regarded as the initial landmark, reaching its zenith with the poet Gregório de Matos and the sacred orator Priest António Vieira. In the plastic arts its greatest exponents were Aleijadinho and Master Ataíde. In the field of architecture this school took root mainly in the Northeast and in Minas Gerais, but left large and numerous examples throughout almost the rest of the country, from Rio Grande do Sul to Pará. As for music, it is known from literary accounts that it was also prodigal, but, unlike the other arts, almost nothing was saved. With the development of Neoclassicism and Academism from the first decades of the 19th century, the Baroque tradition quickly fell into disuse in the elite culture. But it survived in popular culture, especially in interior regions, in the work of Santeiros and in some festivities.

Since the Modernist intellectuals began, in the beginning of the 20th century, a process of rescuing the national Baroque, large number of buildings and collections of art have already been protected by the government, in its various instances, through the declaration of protected heritage, musealization or other processes, attesting the official recognition of the importance of the Baroque for the history of Brazilian culture. Baroque Historic Centers such as those of the cities of Ouro Preto, Olinda and Salvador and artistic ensembles such as the Sanctuary of the Bom Jesus de Matosinhos were granted the status of World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO seal. This precious heritage is one of the great attractions of cultural tourism in the country, at the same time that it becomes an identifier of Brazil, both for locals and for foreigners. Despite its importance, much of the material legacy of the Brazilian Baroque is in a poor state of conservation and requires restoration and other conservative measures, and there are often losses or degradation of valuable specimens in all artistic modalities. The country still has much to do to preserve such an important part of its history, tradition and culture. On the other hand, there seems to be growing awareness of the general population about the need to protect a heritage that is of all and that can benefit all, a benefit even economic, if well managed and conserved. National Museums every day strive to improve its techniques and procedures, the bibliography grows, the government has invested a lot in this area and even the good market that the National Baroque art always finds help in its valorization as worthy pieces of attention and care.

The European model and its Brazilianization

The Baroque was born in Italy in the turn of the 16th to the 17th century, in the midst of one of the greatest spiritual crises Europe had ever faced: the Protestant Reformation, which split the continent's ancient religious unity and sparked an international political rearrangement in which the once almighty Catholic Church has lost strength and space.[1] It was a style of reaction against Classicism of the Renaissance, whose foundations revolved around symmetry, proportionality, economics, rationality, and formal equilibrium. Thus, Baroque aesthetics prevailed by asymmetry, excess, expressive and irregular, so much so that the term "Baroque", which named the style, designated a bizarre and irregular shaped pearl. In addition to an aesthetic tendency, these traits constituted a true way of life and set the tone for the entire culture of the period, a culture that emphasized contrast, conflict, dynamic, dramatic, grandiloquent, dissolution of boundaries, along with an accentuated taste for the opulence of shapes and materials, making it a perfect vehicle for the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church and the rising absolutist monarchies to visibly express their ideals of glory and pomp. The monumental structures erected during the Baroque, such as the palaces and the great theaters and churches, sought to create a spectacular and exuberant nature impact, proposing an integration between the various artistic languages and trapping the viewer in a cathartic, apotheotic, engaging and passionate atmosphere. This aesthetic had wide acceptance in the Iberian Peninsula, especially in Portugal, whose culture, besides being essentially Catholic and monarchical, in which officially united Church and State and delimited loose and indistinct boundaries between public and private, was impregnated with millennialism and mysticism, favoring an ubiquitous and superstitious religiosity characterized by emotional intensity. And from Portugal the movement moved to its colony in South America, where the cultural context of the indigenous peoples, marked by ritualism and festivity, provided a receptive background.[2][3][4]

See also


  1. Eduardo Oliveira Henriques de Araújo; Flávia Carvalho de Freitas (2010). Arquitetura Religiosa: O Barroco do Recife e o fomento do Turismo Cultural". II (1). CIENTEC - Revista de Ciência, Tecnologia e Humanidades do IFPE. pp. 92–100.
  2. "Barroco brasileiro". Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural (in Portuguese). 30 June 2011.
  3. Edilaine Cristina do Prado. "O Pacto Colonial e a Colonização do Brasil" (PDF). Faculdades Santa Cruz.
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