Porto Alegre

Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre

Manuel José de Araújo Porto-alegre (Rio Pardo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; November 2, 1806Lisboa, Portugal; December 29, 1879), baron of Santo Ângelo, was a Brazilian poet and playwright, forerunner of Brazilian romanticism, as well as a painter, architect, urban planner, journalist, cartoonist, art critic and historian, faculty professor, and diplomat. He is patron of the Chair Number 32 of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (Academia Brasileira de Letras).

His real name was Manuel José de Araújo, modified to Pitangueira, pen name adopted by nativist spirit during the Brazilian Independence, and finally, arriving at the definitive form, Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre; yet being wrong the name Porto-Alegre or Porto Alegre, it has been used by some biographers.



Manuel José de Araújo was born on November 2, 1806, in the small village of José de Rio Pardo, located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, to Francisco José de Araújo and Francisca Antônia Viana. At age 5, he became fatherless, and his stepfather took control of his education. In 1816, he moved to Porto Alegre. Again, at age 12, he loses his stepfather. He became employed, at age 16, as a watchmaker assistant, at a Jean Jacques Rousseau jewelry. There he met François Théry, a French painter, who taught him design and painting, and later he became an apprentice to set-decorators José Simeão, Manoel José Gentil y João de Deus, so he could earn some money as a professional painter. He worked as a set decorator at the Opera House. At the end of 1826, he is able to board a ship to Rio de Janeiro, willing to go to Court to study with the painter Jean Baptiste Debret, after having seen a replica of the Disembarking of Archduchess Leopoldina of the French master.

He arrived at Rio de Janeiro on January 14, 1827, and enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts (Academia Imperial de Belas Artes - Aiba), where he becomes a student of Debret and the architect, Grandjean de Montigny. Moreover, he registered at the Military School. He studied anatomy and physiology at the Faculty of Medicine, and took philosophy courses taught by Fra José Policarpo de Santa Gertrudes.

Journey to Europe

On July 25, 1831, Araújo Porto-alegre traveled to Paris to improve his painting techniques, in the company of his teacher and friend, Debret, who left Brazil definitively. In Paris, he came to know Almeida Garrett, a Portuguese writer. In France, he enrolled at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts of Paris (1832), and attended Baron Antoine-Jean Gros' atelier. He stayed in a room at Debret's brother's home, the architect François Debret, where he came to know much of the romantic Parisian generation: composers Gioachino Rossini, Daniel Auber, Adrien Boïeldieu, Luigi Cherubini and Ferdinando Paer. Thus, he got in touch with the group's discussion and works.

In 1834, he went to Italy, and in Rome, studied under archeologist Antonio Nibby. In 1835, he traveled through England, Holland, and Belgium, in company of his friend, the poet Domingos José Gonçalves de Magalhães.

In Paris, 1836, he created, along with Gonçalves de Magalhães and Francisco de Sales Torres Homem, the journal entitled Niterói, where he published his poem Voz da natureza composed in Naples. Despite being short-lived, with only two editions published, this journal was considered the initial reference of the romantic literary movement of Brazil.

He returned to Rio de Janeiro on May, 1837. There he developed intense artistic, educational, administrative and literary activities. Among these activities, he acted most notably as an architect, design professor, poet, and even art critic and historian. He is considered the founder of the art history and criticism discipline in Brazil.

Return to Brasil

Between 1837 and 1839, Araújo Porto-alegre creates the first satiric lithographs ever done in Brazil; these were sold in separate units throughout Rio de Janeiro's streets. The first one came up on December 14, 1837, sold for R$160, with no signature (his authorship was recognized later), and entitled A campainha e o Cujo. It depicted conservative journalist Justiniano José da Rocha, from the government linked journal Correio Oficial, receiving a bag filled with money. A second one followed entitled A Rocha Tarpéia.

In 1837, he assumes the chair of History Painting at Aiba, remaining in that position until 1848, when he transfers to the Military School to work as a Design professor.

In 1838 he gets married to Ana Paulina Delamare. On that same year, he was named interim professor of Design at Pedro II College, and was invited to be part of the newly created Theatrical Society.

By 1840, Araújo Porto-alegre was named painter of the Imperial Chamber, being responsible of decoration works for the crowning of emperor Dom Pedro II. On such occasion, he designed a pavilion consisting of a central temple decorated with historic settings representing the brief Brazilian dynasty tradition, enriched with large medallions that invoked Charlemagne, Francis II, Napoleon and Peter the Great, and two lateral galleries whose names – Amazonas and Plata – along with the sculptures of Marc Ferrez, allegories of the cardinal rivers of Brazil, symbolized the territorial extension of Brazil. He was also responsible of the decorating works of the imperial wedding, in 1843, of emperor Pedro II with Doña Teresa Cristina, besides the internal decoration of the Imperial Palace in Petrópolis. In 1840, he was named Knight of the Order of Christ and Knight of the Rose.

Along with Gonçalves de Magalhães and Torres Homem, he establishes the journal Minerva Brasiliense (1843-1845), where he publishes some verses of the poem entitled Brasiliana, which will be published finally complete by 1863.

Porto-alegre, along with Torres Homem, starts in 1844 a journal entitled Lanterna Mágica, first publication of political humor of the Brazilian press, illustrated with cartoons that saw 11 editions. The publication was subtitled Periódico plástico-filosófico (sculptural-philosophical journal), presented two characters criticizing the actual state of affairs, Laverno and Belchior (resembling those created by French cartoonist Honoré Daumier: Robert Macaire and Bertrand). Rafael Mendes de Carvalho was his main designer.

In 1848, he breaks up from the group linked to Félix Taunay, such as Cabral Teive, Correia de Lima and Louis Auguste Moreaux, leaving the academy (Aiba). Thus, he goes to teach design at the Military School.

In 1849, Araújo Porto-alegre along with Joaquim Manoel de Macedo and Antônio Gonçalves Dias, launch Guanabara (1849-1856), a magazine considered as a type of official journal of the romantic movement.

Director of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts (Aiba)

Araújo Porto-alegre later joins politics, and by 1852, he assumes a position as a substitute councilman in the Municipal Chamber of Rio de Janeiro, lending service in the areas of urbanism and public health, occupying this position till 1854. In that year, he presents a motion of educative reforms at Aiba, the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts (Academia Imperial de Belas Artes) by request of the emperor. The latter approves his proposals, and as a consequence, Araújo Porto-alegre became director of that institution. This became Aiba’s most important reform during the monarchic period. It was accomplished with the unconditional political and financial support of the emperor Pedro II. This motion became known as the Pedreira Reform, of May 14, 1855, and substituted the Lino Coutinho Reform dating back from December 30, 1831; the former regulated the institution activities till the decline of the Empire. The Pedreira Reform had the purpose of carrying the modernization project to the institution and help the country to achieve a place among the European civilized nations by promoting the Arts in Brazil.

As a director of Aiba, between 1854 and 1857, Araújo Porto-alegre promotes enlarging the built area of the institution by annexing the Music Conservatory and the Pinacotheca. He establishes a series of reforms in the institution’s teaching curricula that included the programs’ contents, staff job attributes, working days and number of holidays, and even disciplinary measures. He implements new subjects such as Applied Mathematics, Theory of Shadows and Perspectives, and Industrial Design. He introduces the Watercolor technique within landscape painting education. He increases the time of internships for students awarded to study abroad from three to six years. This reform favored history painting in order to keep it up as a main artistic genre that was directly concerned with the creation of a national identity. History painting gained recognition with his official painters, Pedro Américo and Victor Meirelles. As the institution’s director, Araújo Porto-alegre adopts progress techniques, and creates a new form of artistic expression corresponding to the Brazilian reality. Through this reform he was able to define the social environment of the artist, which was seen at that time in a disrespectul manner by relating it a handicraft. However, he confronts, once more, resistance from Taunay’s group. These misunderstandings made him break up with the institution by 1857.

Final years and return to Europe

Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre joins the consular service by 1860, serving as Consul of Brazil in Berlin, Prussia; later being relocated in Dresden, Saxony, from 1862 to 1866; and finally, in Lisbon, from 1866 to 1879. He coordinated the Fine Arts Section of Brazil at the 1867's Universal Exposition in Paris. Towards the end of 1869, a former student, painter Pedro Américo, gets married with Araújo Porto-alegre's daughter, Carlota. In 1874, the emperor Dom Pedro II confers him the title of baron of Santo Ângelo. However, in spite of all honors and the good relationship with the emperor, these did not translate into economic resources, and Araújo Porto-alegre dies poor, leaving no wealth for his family. He dies on December 29, 1879 in Lisbon, Portugal. His remains return to Brazil in 1922, and seven years later, these are transferred to Rio Pardo, where they finally rest.

Artistic creation

Journalist, art historian and critic

Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre is considered the founder of Brazilian Art History and Critic discipline. He wrote diverse articles like the Memory on the Old Fluminense School, published in 1841, Valentim da Fonseca e Silva, Francisco Pedro do Amaral, Some Ideas on Fine Arts Industry in the Empire of Brazil, in addition to diverse articles of music. He frequently collaborated in journals like the Journal de I'Institut Historique de France, Aurora Fluminense, A Reforma, Revista Brasileira, Nova Minerva and Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro.


Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre left a small number of paintings of dissimilar value, among portraits, historic paintings, landscapes, etc. Among the most important ones stand out Garret at Oporto's Besiege (Garret no Cerco do Porto, 1833), the portraits of Viscount of Araguaia, Doña Rosa Luísa, Dom Pedro I (1830) and the Coronation of Dom Pedro II (Coroação de Dom Pedro II, 1844), left incomplete; all of them nowadays exhibited at the Imperial Museum of Petrópolis. Other paintings are exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Brazil.

Architectural works

Araújo Porto-alegre had great interest in architecture. He was student of Grandjean de Montigny at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts - Aiba, and later in 1834, he was a student of architect Luigi Canina in Rome. After his return from Europe, in 1837, he engaged in different architectonic projects in Rio de Janeiro, standing out the works done at the palaces Paço da Cidade and Paço Imperial de São Cristóvão (nowadays the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro or National Museum of Quinta da Boa Vista), the Summer Palace of the emperor, the old seat of Bank of Brazil at Rua da Candelária street, demolished in 1937, the building of the Church of Santana (never built), the architectural plans of the School of Medicine and the Customs House (Alfândega) of Rio de Janeiro, in 1858.

Literary works

He used Tibúrcio do Amarante as a pen name, name he used for publishing the Excerpts of the Memories and Travels of the Colonel Bonifácio de Amarante (Excertos das Memórias e Viagens do Coronel Bonifácio de Amarante) "published with annotations by Lieutenant Tibúrcio de Amarante" in Íris magazine in 1848, and republished as a book in 1852 in the typography Paula Brito and in the journal A Marmota in 1858. He belongs to the first group of Brazilian writers that adhered to romanticism whose poetry is marked by a strong nationalism. He abandones classic mythology and instead adheres to a national thematic. His epic poem Colombo stands out, made up by more than 20,000 verses, in which he worked since 1840, publishing episodes in magazines starting from 1850. He published 135 works of literature, 20 plays and four translations.



  • Oda Sáfica (Sapphic Ode, 1830), dedicated to Jean Baptiste Debret.
  • Voz da natureza (1836)
  • O Caçador (The Hunter, 1843)
  • Brasiliana I (1844)
  • O Voador (The Flyer, 1844)
  • Brasiliana em Três Cantos (Brasiliana in Three Chants, 1845)
  • O Corcovado (1847)
  • Canto inaugural (Inaugural Chant, 1859)
  • As Brasilianas (1863)
  • Colombo, epic poem, 2 volumes (1866)


  • Angélica e Firmino (Angelica and Firmino, 1845)
  • A destruição das florestas (Destruction of Forests, 1845)
  • A estátua amazônica (Amazonic Statue, 1851)
  • Cenas de Penafiel (Dinners at Penafiel, 1858)
  • Os judas (The Judes, 1858)
  • Os lobisomens (Werewolves, 1862)
  • A escrava (The Slave, 1863)
  • Os lavernos (Hell, 1863)
  • O rei dos mendigos (King of Beggars, 1866)
  • Os voluntários da pátria (Homeland Volunteers, 1877), written on occasion of the Paraguayan War
  • Os toltecas (The Toltecs)
  • Os ourives (Silversmiths)
  • Os traidores (The Traitors)
  • As barras de ouro (Bars of Gold)
  • As sapatero politicão (The Politicized Shoemaker)
  • Dinheiro é saúde (Money and Health)
  • O espião de Bonaparte (Bonaparte's Spy)

Plays written for opera

  • Prólogo dramático (Dramatic Prologue, 1837), music writteb by Cândido José da Silva
  • A noite de São João (The Night of St. John's, 1857)
  • A restauração de Pernambuco (Pernambuco's Restoration, 1858), music written by Gianini
  • O prestígio da lei (Law's Prestige, 1859), música de Francisco Manuel da Silva
  • Dom Sebastiāo
  • A véspera dos Guararapes (Guararapes' Eve)


  • Excertos das Memórias e Viagens do Coronel Bonifácio de Amarante (1848)

Articles on Art

  • Etat des Beaux-Arts au Brésil (State of Fine Art in Brazil) at the Jornal de l’Institute Historique (1835)
  • Memória sobre a Antiga Escola Fluminense de Pintura (Memory on the Old Fluminense School of Painting) published at Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (1841)
  • Algumas Idéias sobre as Belas Artes e a Indústria no Império do Brasil (Some Ideas on Fine Arts and Industry in the Empire of Brazil) published at Guanabara (1850)
  • Iconografia Brasileira com as biografias do Padre José Maurício Nunes, Valentim da Fonseca e Silva e Francisco Pedro do Amaral (Brazilian Iconography with biographies of Padre José Maurício Nunes, Valentim da Fonseca e Silva and Francisco Pedro do Amaral) published at Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (1858).



  • Cartas a Monte Alverne (Letter to Monte Alverne, 1964)
  • Correspondência com Paulo Barbosa da Silva (Letters to Paulo Barbosa da Silva), at the Colección Afrânio Peixoto, of ABL (1990).

Note: Those works that appear undated are known to exist, some of them have been found only in parts; however, there is ongoing research to find these works complete and dated in Brazilian collections.


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