Page design based on Portinari's painting "Boys Swimming". Image from the Portinari Project Archives (all rights reserved).

Candido Portinari

Candido Portinari was a major figure in the twentieth-century Brazilian painting and had an internationally renowned career. He was born on December 30, 1903, on a coffee farm in the countryside of the state of São Paulo. He was the son of humble Italians from the Veneto region and he had just the primary-school education. His artistic vocation was manifested quite early, and he moved to Rio de Janeiro (then the capital of Brazil) in 1928 aiming to study painting.

"Boys Swimming" 1955, tile panel ( 152 x 212cm)

He lived for a year in Paris in 1930 and his international recognition started in 1935 when he won the second honorable mention at the Carnegie Institute's International Exhibition, in Pittsburgh, U.S.A., with a large canvas titled "Café" ("Coffee"), depicting a harvest scene typical of his native region. In 1939 he painted three large panels for the Brazilian pavilion at the New York World's Fair. In the same year, New York's Museum of Modern Art bought his canvas "O morro" ("The Slum"). In 1946 Portinari returned to Paris to hold his first exhibition in Europe, at the Galerie Charpentier . The exhibition was highly successful and earned Portinari the Légion d'Honneur. In 1952 he began studies for the panels "Guerra" ("War") and "Paz" ("Peace"), which the Brazilian government offered to the new headquarters of the United Nations. Finished in 1956, the panels - measuring about 14 meters by 10 meters each, the largest ever made by Portinari - are to be seen in the entrance hall of the United Nations Building, in New York. Also in 1956 he was awarded the Guggenheim Prize of Brazil.

Candido Portinari died on February 6, 1962, poisoned by the toxic elements contained in the paints he used in his work.

(Source: Projeto Portinari's Website, Quick Biographical Notes).

Check Portinari's detailed biography at Projeto Portinari's Website.