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Fonseca e Silva, Valentim da (1750–1813)

Fonseca e Silva, Valentim da (1750–1813)

Valentim da Fonseca e Silva (Mestre Valentim; b. 1750; d. 1813), Brazilian sculptor, wood-carver, and architect. Although he was born in Minas Gerais, Mestre Valentim lived most of his life in Rio de Janeiro. The mulatto son of a Portuguese diamond contractor and black mother, he was orphaned at a young age. While studying wood carving under the Portuguese master craftsman Luis da Fonseca Rosa, he began to receive numerous commissions for candelabras, altarpieces, statuary, and other religious decorative work for churches throughout the city.

Mestre Valentim's best-known commissions include the carvings for the Church of Santa Cruz dos Militares, the carving and main altar in the Church of São Francisco de Paula, and the chapel of the novitiate in the Church of the Third Order of Carmo.

Beyond religious wood carvings, Mestre Valentim was the first in Brazil to apply enamel to metal. He also devoted himself to secular projects such as public fountains and architectural design. His masterpiece, the plans for the Passeio Público, was undertaken in collaboration with the painter Leandro Joaquim and the designers Francisco dos Santos Xavier and Francisco Xavier Cardoso Caldeira. Viceroy Luiz de Vasconcellos commissioned the public park as part of the government's attempt at the beautification of Rio de Janeiro.

See alsoArt: The Colonial Period; Brazil: The Colonial Era: 1500–1808.


Arte no Brasil, vol. 1 (1979), esp. pp. 246-254.

Additional Bibliography

Andrade, Jorge. Passeio Público: A paixão de um vice-rei. Rio de Janeiro: Litteris Editora, 1999.

                                       Caren A. Meghreblian

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