Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Victor Meirelles

The First Mass in Brazil
oil on canvas
268 × 356 cm
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Victor Meirelles de Lima (1832-1903) was a Brazilian painter who is best known for his works relating to his nation's culture and history. His parents were immigrants from Portugal. He displayed an early talent for art, producing his first known work, a landscape of Santa Catarina Island, at the age of fourteen.

It was decided that the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro would take charge of his education, so he enrolled there in 1847 and remained until 1852. That year, his painting of St.John the Baptist in Prison won him the Prix du Voyage for a study trip to Europe. He spent most of his time in Florence, Rome and Paris. During this period, he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

Upon his return to Brazil, Emperor Pedro II awarded him the Order of Christ and made him a Knight in the Order of the Rose. He became an Honorary Professor at the Academy and later was given the Chair of History Painting. In 1868, he spent time aboard several warships to complete a commission for naval history paintings and, over the next decade, executed numerous works for the Imperial Family.

After the Republic was declared in 1889, he and other artists associated with the monarchy were removed from their posts at the Imperial Academy although, officially, he was dismissed for his age. In 1893 he attempted to start a private school, but was not successful.
He died, unnoticed, at his modest home.