Located in the left wing of the Mosteiro da Luz [Monastery of the Light], in the Avenida Tiradentes, in the Centre of São Paulo, the Museum of Sacred Art was inaugurated in 1970, on the basis of the convention signed between the Archdiocesan Mitre of São Paulo and the state government. The agreement had the objective of ensuring a base for the former Curia Museum, with the collection of sacred images, numismatics, religious silverware, jewels, altars, rare liturgical books, furniture, paintings, etc., created by the archbishop Dom Duarte Leopoldo e Silva in 1907. In 1979, the recently appointed director of the Museum of Sacred Art, Father Antonio de Oliveira Godinho, was responsible for bringing together the historic building and the collection, eliminating walls, freeing spaces and redistributing pieces and works. The Monastery of the Light, in turn has a history linked to the foundation of the Convento da Luz [Convent of the Light] in 1774, built in pounded wattle and daub on the basis of a design by Frei Antonio de Sant'Ana Galvão. In 1822, the architect Frei Lucas José da Purificação simplified the original design, giving the building its current appearance. The fruit of work by the two Franciscans, the monastery is notable/ stands out as one of the most important colonial monuments of the 18th century, awarded listed status by the Instituto do Patrimônio, Histórico e Artístico Nacional - Iphan [Brazilian Heritage Institute], in 1943.
The collection of the Museum of Sacred Art of São Paulo reveals the Brazilian imaginary, above all of São Paulo, of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, on the basis of the output which contrasts with the Baroque and Rococó religious art predominant in the provinces of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro by its stylistic simplicity. The São Paulo output, closely influenced by Hispano-American models brought by the Jesuit missions of Paraguay and Argentina, translated the advances of the catechism and of colonisation. Artists and craftsmen followed the trails blazed in the interior of the state by the Bandeirante expeditions, constructing and ornamenting the chapels and churches. Works in wood and fired clay were realised by cultured men as well as by popular artists who made their own reading of cultured models. Around the religious brotherhoods, professionals of various categories: potters, tilemakers, roofers, bricklayers, carpenters, carvers, metalworkers, tinsmiths. Some orders, especially those of the Jesuits and Benedictines, trained and maintained their own craftsmen. Among these, we may observe the frequent presence of mestizos, free mulattos, indispensable for the architecture and arts of the colonial period.
Pieces intended for the old churches of the city of São Paulo and surroundings: Araçariguama, Santana do Parnaíba, Cotia, Guarulhos etc., compose the main part of the museum collection, which also includes works from other regions. Painters, goldsmiths and sculptors, famous and anonymous, are represented in it, most notably: Frei Agostinho da Piedade (c.1580 - 1661), Frei Agostinho de Jesus (c.1610 - 1661), Aleijadinho (1730 - 1814) and Mestre Valentim (c.1745 - 1813). With a strong teaching vocation, the layout of the works in the collection accompanies the history of the church in the region, which is directly linked to the evolution of the city. Already in the entrance, the visitor is presented to São Paulo in the 18th century, to the first São Paulo churches and to the creation of the convent. Special spaces are devoted to the construction process for the building and the general building techniques of the first centuries: pounded wattle and daub using a crusher, compressed into wooden crates; hand-made wattle and daub plastered onto the wattle and daub structure; adobe and the development of buildings in mud. Pieces remaining from the old churches are located in the corridor.
In the room of the Benedictine masters, Frei Agostinho de Jesus and Frei Agostinho da Piedade, there are various works representing the two ceramists, including Santo Amaro [St. Amaro], of the 17th century, by Frei Agostinho da Piedade, and Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres [Our Lady of the Pleasures] and Nossa Senhora da Purificação [Our Lady of the Purification], both by Frei Agostinho de Jesus. This latter piece, in fired clay and polychrome, in which the virgin is represented with adolescent features, is considered one of the master works of the author. Spaces assigned to religious goldwork (jewels, chalices, ornaments, etc.), to the historical texts on the creation of the São Paulo diocese and the furniture of the sacristy lie beside rooms dedicated to popular makers of religious images, to the paulistinhas, small popular images in clay, typical of São Paulo, and to images of the Divine, a local version of erudite models.
The museum collection, expanded over the years, also includes paintings by the Bahian artist Capinam (1791 - 1874) and by Benedito Calixto (1853 - 1927). Specifically by Aleijadinho, famous for his works in soapstone, we may recognise works in wood, such as Nossa Senhora das Dores [Our Lady of the Pains] e Sant'Ana Mestra [The Principal St. Anne], both dating from the 18th century. Also in wood there are the works of Mestre Valentim, such as the Angel, from the end of the 18th century.
Museu de Arte Sacra (São Paulo, SP)
Museu de Arte Sacra (São Paulo, SP)
Museu de Arte Sacra (São Paulo, SP)
HOLLANDA, Sérgio Buarque de (org.); CAMPOS, Pedro Moacyr (org.). História geral da civilização brasileira - v.2: a época colonial. Introdução Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda; colaboração Aziz Nacib Ab'Sáber, Fernando Mendes de Almeida, Alice P. Cannabrava, Laerte Ramos de Carvalho, Pedro Octávio Carneiro da Cunha, Lycurgo de Castro Santos Filho, Maurício Goulart, Américo Jacobina Lacombe, Francisco Curt Lange, Nícia Vilela Luz, Lourival Gomes Machado, Rubens Borba de Moraes, Teresa Schorer Petrone, Olivério Mário de Oliveira Pinto, Arthur Cezar Ferreira Reis, Antonio Candido de Mello e Sousa, Dorival Teixeira Vieira. 6.ed. São Paulo: Difel, 1985. 518 p., il. p.b.
MUSEU de Arte Sacra de São Paulo. Disponível em: [http://www.artesacra.sarasa.com.br]. Acesso em: 16 jan. 2006.
MUSEU de Arte Sacra Mosteiro da Luz. Texto irmã Ruth Baggio, Benedito Lima de Toledo, Giselle Marques Leite Paixão, Maria Helena Brancante, Alexandre Eulálio, dom Clemente Maria da Silva-Nigra. São Paulo: Artes: SANBRA, 1987. 180 p., il. color., foto.
O MUSEU de Arte Sacra de São Paulo. Texto João Marino, José Geraldo Nogueira Moutinho, Carlos Alberto Cerqueira Lemos. São Paulo: Banco Safra, 1983. 269 p., il. p&b. (Banco Safra).
PINTO, Jussara P. (coord.); HUNT, Luli (coord.). Museu de Arte Sacra: imaginária séc. XVIII. Curadoria Mari Marino; texto Luciana Nunes; Lisle Francis McNair, Jonathan Wheatley. São Paulo: Empório de Produção & Comunicação, 2002. 84 p., il. color.
PINTO, Jussara P. (coord.); HUNT, Luli (coord.). Museu de Arte Sacra: imaginária séc. XVI e XVII. Curadoria Mari Marino; texto Luciana Nunes; tradução Lisle Francis McNair, Jonathan Wheatley. São Paulo: Empório de Produção & Comunicação, 2002. 72 p., il. color.