Sport and Spirit in Brazil

After months of negative advance press about zika virus concerns and dismal reports of pollution, foiled terrorist plots, crime-ridden slums, and inadequate housing, the city of Rio de Janeiro managed to pull off a jubilant and visually dazzling opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics, and with a budget far less than previous host cities, like London and Beijing. Rainforests, fireworks, and the samba! It was a spirited, colorful Rio party.

So the games are well underway and I’ve really been enjoying them. The swimming and gymnastics competitions in particular have been amazing. Those are, of course, the perennially popular attractions of the summer games, but I’ve found myself glued to the TV even when watching things like water polo and archery! The precision of the archers amazes me probably because I’m the worst dart player on the planet. The worst 😆

In honor the Rio Summer Olympics, some Museworthy art by the Brazilian realist painter José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior. Born in 1850, he studied at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio, and after a few years spent studying in Europe Almeida Júnior returned to Brazil and settled in São Paulo where he gave lessons in his studio, painted, and organized exhibitions.

I think this is one the best depictions I’ve seen of this subject, of which there are countless artistic versions. Study for Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt, 1881:


While adept at religious and historical themes, Almeida Júnior worked equally with regional subjects during his years in Brazil. This is Estudo para Cabeça de Caipira, 1893:


Nhá Chica, 1895:


The Guitar Player, 1899:


Saudade, 1899:


10 thoughts on “Sport and Spirit in Brazil

  1. johndrob says:

    The pipe that the woman in “Nhá Chica” is smoking is called a churchwarden, although many associate them more recently with the Lord of the Rings. They were made very long so that the churchwarden could sit somewhere discretely smoking his pipe in church – the bowl could be outside the building while he was sitting inside. However, I don’t think either of the current churchwardens at All Saints smoke pipes…

    • artmodel says:


      Love the background about the churchwarden! So I went and Googled, thanks to your info, and found that Keen’s Steakhouse on 36th St has the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world:

      As for the All Saints churchwardens, I also don’t think there’s a pipe smoker among them. Although for some strange reason I can picture Kem puffing on one of those things out the window of the Common Room 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!


  2. Bill says:

    It is captivating — watching someone who is just that good at what they do. And I do feel a certain affinity for Brazil as well — my father spent most of WWII in Recife fighting the Nazis. (This sounded suspicious until I looked at a map and saw how close Brazil is to Africa — and Rommel was in Africa. Still . . .)

    You know what’s especially nice? When it’s this hot, and you can sit there watching TV with the fan blowing on you, sipping a cold drink while watching other people exert themselves 🙂

    • artmodel says:


      I didn’t know that your Dad was was in World War II, let alone in Brazil. Was he in the army air force? I too feel an affinity for Brazil, but for a much different kind of connection! My hair colorist, who is also a good friend, is from Brazil. He returns there often to visit his mother and siblings, and shares many stories with me about the country, culture, and people. He also indulges my Portuguese language questions because I’m a bit of a language buff.

      And believe me I’ve been sipping on quite a few cold drinks while watching the Olympic athletes. I may have to make them colder still with this ungodly heat wave we’re having.

      Thanks for your comments!


      • Bill says:

        He was in the Navy — they shipped him to Brazil after his training in Maine, where he had met my mother at a USO dance. I have a very romantic image of that meeting in my head — warm evening, Glenn Miller music in the background . . . my mother remembers him as being a little shy — at first, anyway. Then the relationship went long-distance. At the end of the war, my dad had a chance to visit Rio, but he wanted to get back to his family and GF. They were married the following year.

        I remembered your colorist — ask him about Recife 🙂

  3. Dave says:

    I’m also hooked on the Olympics–I’ve especially enjoyed watching tiny Fiji’s rugby team beat up on sides from much bigger countries. I’m not sure why swimming is captivating to watch, but it is.

    Thanks for sharing those pieces by Almeida, who I had never heard of. He was a terrific portraitist. I’d love to be drawn or painted by the likes of him.

    I hope you have cool places to go to escape the heat. Fall is not far away.

    • artmodel says:


      I wish I saw the Fiji rugby team! Missed it. Only caught a little bit of rugby, damn. And yes, you’re so right about swimming being captivating to watch. Just before I started writing my comment replies I watched the women’s 800m freestyle final and the men’s 50m. Sensational athleticism.

      Glad you appreciated Almeida’s artwork. There were quite a few Brazilian painters to choose from. I liked his realist style.

      The heat is horrendous! It’s awful because you can’t do anything, can’t go out. Just .. blech.

      Thanks for commenting!


  4. Claudia,

    You mentioned the women’s 800m freestyle, so I can’t help but to comment.

    Katie Ledecky’s performance in the 800m freestyle defies mere words! She was able to finish in first place, stand up in the pool, remove her goggles and then stand there WAITING for the second place finisher! The news coverage of her spectacular performance was deplorable. Michael Phelps wins a gold medal by 1/100th of a second and people can’t stop talking about his amazing performance. Laughable! And they called her the female Phelps! Come on, he’s the male Ledecky!

    OK, I’ll stop ranting now…

    All the Best,


    • artmodel says:


      Rant away! I recall exactly what you’re talking about. It was infuriating. Crap headlines like this:

      A man TYING is more noteworthy than a woman winning. Michael Phelps or not, Ledecky was the bona fide star with that historic, memorable triumph. I was jumping up and down in front of the TV clapping and cheering after that 800 m freestyle! Incredible.

      Thanks for your comments!


      • I hadn’t seen that headline. What a farse! I guess I live in a dream world where people are noted for their achievements, not their gonads.

        I was just spellbound and incredulous when I saw her performance. I’d never seen anything like it in my life and may never again. Katie ROCKS! Clearly, in a league of her own.

        All the Best,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.