Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior

oil on canvas
95 × 141 cm
Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil

Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior (1850-1899), known as Almeida Junior, was a Brazilian artist and designer; one of the first there to paint in the Realistic tradition of Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet.

In 1869, he enrolled at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes. After graduating, he chose not to compete for a travel award to Europe, returning instead to Itu, and setting up a studio. In 1876, during a tour of the Sao Paulo region, Emperor Pedro II saw his work, was impressed, and personally offered his financial support. Later that year, a Royal Decree awarded him 300 Francs per month for the purpose of studying in Paris.

He soon settled in Montmartre and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He remained in Paris until 1882 then, after a brief trip to Italy, returned to Brazil and exhibited the works he had created during his absence. He held exclusive art exhibitions and executed portraits of notable people, ranging from coffee barons to Republican politicians. In 1884, he held a showing at the Exposicao Geral de Belas Artes and was made a Knight in the Order of the Rose.

From 1887 to 1896, he made three more trips to Europe. During this period, he would increasingly turn from Biblical and historical works in favor of regionalist themes, depicting the everyday life and leaving the Academic style behind while gradually approaching Naturalism. Despite these changes, his reputation at the Academy remained unchallenged and he received the Gold Medal there in 1898.

His life ended tragically a year later when he was stabbed to death in front of a hotel by his cousin.