In the April 1917 issue of the Brazil Magazine, Monteiro Lobato begins the book review Bahian Artists, authored by what is still considered the first Afro-descendant Brazilian art historian, Manuel Querino:

Here is a precious and honest book. Published in Bahia in 1911, it only now arrives in São Paulo. He spent only five years [actually six] on the journey. The author was happy. There are others, equally valuable, given birth in the North and in the extreme South, which have not yet arrived, and will never arrive, perhaps. However, our bookstores are full of belligerent French novelties, published this year […]. This shows that France is much closer to Brazil than Brazil itself.[1].

When I read this paragraph, I concluded that, since 1917, little has changed in Brazil's publishing circuit. If that edition by Querino took six years to reach Lobato's hands, five passed before the new edition of Bahian Artists come to mine!

In 2018, the Cultural Commission of the Municipality of Salvador launched, in a facsimile edition, the books Artists from Bahia (biographical indications), (1911), and The Arts in Bahia (1913)[2], by Manuel Querino, an intellectual also trained in the artistic field. This very meritorious attitude from the Commission certainly responded to those young researchers who, nurturing a renewed interest in the work of that author, demanded more recent editions of those two classics in the historiography of Bahian and Brazilian art.

Manuel Querino, died in Salvador, in 1923[3], has had his life and work reevaluated by new generations of historians, transforming him into the icon of the black Brazilian intellectual who, having been born free in a Brazil that was still slave-owning, managed to mark his presence on the political and intellectual scene of Bahia during the first years of the XNUMXth century.

Querino's Afro-Brazilian background caught Monteiro Lobato's attention:

Manuel Querino is a member of the Historical Institute of Bahia, and is black, as his portrait reveals. This only adds value. Being black means being humble, starting from nothing, encountering in life all the obstacles of social prejudice and expending twice the effort required to obtain the minimum things than is required by those born free of pigments.[4]

Despite the prejudice present in the sentence, it attests to Lobato's attention to Querino's origin. On the other hand, he recognizes his effort in writing the “biographical indications” of Bahian artists – a work of many difficulties:

[…] Honor be to him for the arduous task carried out with so much modesty and discernment. [Querino} is not and does not do the work of a critic, he simply piles up material that the biggest and smallest Taines of the earth impose from wise men at the expense of other people's efforts. Subtitle your book Biographical indications – and brings together everything that he managed to gather in years of work regarding Bahian sculptors, painters and musicians. In sculpture, he biographs twenty-seven artists, some sculptors, most of them simple saint-makers[5].


Scholar Maria das Graças de Andrade Leal, in the introduction to the 2018 edition of Bahian Artists, writes about Querino's intellectual production:

His work […] is divided into two phases that complement each other. In the first, elaborated between 1903 and 1916, […] he produced essays, articles, chronicles, published in periodicals and books, which critically portrayed the situation of the arts and artists, of manual workers […]. And, in the second, between 1916-1923, he devoted himself to studying and narrating popular customs and the role of Africans and descendants in the construction of Brazilian identity.[6]

Due to these considerations, anyone who sets out to read the two books republished by the Salvador City Council, hoping to find in them a black intellectual, engaged in the Afro-Brazilian cause, interested in discovering Bahian artistic production from the colonial period to the beginning of of the Republic, precise indices of black ancestry.

This question is absent from Querino's two books.

Produced during the first phase of his work, the two books follow the schemes traditionally established by the history of European art. And it is precisely in this characteristic that the interest in them lies. In order to understand the complexity of studying the artistic reality of Salvador until the beginning of the Republic, within the parameters of traditional art history, it is important to be aware of how Querino tried to adapt the assumptions of that narrative to the reality of Salvador, marked by a complex intersection between the interests of the system of professional corporations with medieval heritage, the status of autonomous artist (introduced by the advent of art academies) and the reality of slavery.

The objective of this text is to initiate a reflection on how Querino tried to adapt the assumptions of the methodology of art history founded in Europe, to think about the situation of art in Salvador.


It was Querino's evident connection with the history of European art that allowed some scholars to associate him with what, for centuries, has been considered the first European art historian: Giorgio Vasari – an artist and intellectual active in northern Italy, Tuscany, between 1511 and 1574[7].

The connection between Querino and Vasari was mentioned by scholar Luiz Alberto R. Freire in the preface he wrote for the 2018 version of The Arts in Bahia:

We don't know if Querino was familiar with the work The lives[…], by the Arezzo painter, Giorgio Vasari, published in Florence, in 1550 […] or even by one of his followers, who continued the model of art history in the various European nations. What is certain is that Querino, with the publications of Bahian Artists e The Arts in Bahia, effectively fought against the culture of forgetfulness, so present in Bahia and recorded information that could be gathered from artists who worked in Bahia from the XNUMXth century to the beginning of the XNUMXth century.[8]

Seen, therefore, as an intellectual who thought about art in Salvador, Querino would have accomplished in that city what Vasari accomplished in Florence a few centuries earlier. For Freire, whether Querino directly read Vasari's work or not would not seem more important to him than the fact that he, like Vasari, had compiled a series of biographical data about the artists of his region.


Researcher Eliane Nunes also established comparisons between Vasari and Querino:

The chapter dedicated to Vasari from the book History da art history (1989), by Germain Bazin, receives the suggestive title of “The founding father”. Indeed, no other epigraph is so exact to qualify this man who is considered the creator of art history. Vasari's desire, expressed in his autobiography, was to exalt the great artists and in this one can find the first similarity with our Manuel Querino. Like Vasari […], realizing the memory of artists, it was his category that he was valuing, because [Querino] was also an artist and, like Vasari, inserts his own biography in the work he executes. But if Vasari needed 20 years and a second edition of his book […] to insert his own biography among those artists considered excellent in himself, Manuel Querino is included among those biographed in the first edition of Bahian artists (1909, p. 116-117)[9]

After emphasizing vanity and pride – feelings that united the two intellectuals and artists – Eliane Nunes refers to the first of their differences:

Vasari establishes a value judgment based on “aesthetic” categories, while Querino, imbued with a more encyclopedic spirit, seeks to list the largest number of professionals who worked in the space of Salvador developing activities related to “artistic” doing, considering them competent or not in their crafts. Another distinction in this selection is that Vasari deals with what he considers “minor art” only “[…] indirectly, speaking of medals, carvings and cameos in connection with architecture and painting, gilding, marquetry and stained glass in the section of art. painting". (Bazin, 1989, p. 30). For him, the arts considered minor were mechanical, and therefore servile, not deserving to appear alongside what he considered the major arts: architecture, sculpture and painting. Querino follows the distinction between major (liberal) and minor (mechanical) arts, but does not shy away from broadly addressing the representatives of the latter […][10]


Nunes, when he used the expression “a more encyclopedic spirit” was referring to the fact that Querino produced lists of names of artists and craftsmen – with small biographical data attached to each one –, as if they were items from an encyclopedia. Vasari, in his Lives, on the contrary, did not limit himself to producing brief narratives about each artist he treated, on the contrary. When describing the art that emerged in northern Italy from the XNUMXth century onwards, he produced sequential biographies of the artists born in that part of the European country and, as will be seen, this sequence of biographies formed a lineage that went from the “primitive” artists of Florence and surroundings, up to the most significant of them, Michelangelo.

On the other hand, the works of these artists helped Vasari to reinforce and develop aesthetic elements of his time. This will not happen with Querino's work. Or at least, not to the same extent.


In another distinction between Querino and Vasari, made by Nunes, the first indication begins to emerge that Querino was forced to make some changes to the assumptions Vasari chose to think about the narrative he would write about the art of northern Italy. I refer to the excerpt in which the researcher recalls that the Italian respected the distinction between mechanical (“minor”) and liberal (“major”) arts, differences that Querino also knew, but did not insist on following. Why would this have happened?

It is precisely this apparent unwillingness of the Bahian intellectual to embrace the precepts that guide the tradition of European art – divided into “mechanical” and “liberal” arts – the core of my concern here.

Before starting this discussion, it would be opportune, however, to return to the definition of Vasari as the “father” of art history and as an artist and intellectual obedient to defined aesthetic criteria.


The British scholar George Bull, one of the translators of Vasari's book into English, explains that both he and other intellectuals, his contemporaries in Florence, believed that the history of the development of any human activity – art, for example – had a arc of development that would go from the beginning to decay, through progress and development:

The acceptance of the scheme of rise and decline in human activities and the idea that the renaissance or revival of the fine arts took place in Tuscany was common currency in the intellectual world in Vasari's time. However, for the idea of ​​​​renaissance of the arts, Vasari conceived a captivating aspect: the signs of rebirth were first noticed in one or another building, in one or another work of sculpture; The men who first distanced themselves two hundred years ago from the degenerate art of the post-classical period were Cimabue and Giotto, figures still shrouded in legend but whose work could still be seen and whose influence could be traced in successive generations. In a second moment, the flesh and blood figures of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Donatello flourished; in the third, when the arts would have reached “the heights of perfection”, men worked who were still present in the recent memory of people or artists who were still alive, Leonardo [in the first case] and Raphael and Michelangelo [in the second].[11]

In addition to constituting this narrative about the history of Tuscan art, ranging from Cimabue to Michelangelo, other data that would have led Vasari to occupy the place of “father” of the history of Western art[12], were the aesthetic assumptions that he used to support his considerations about the qualities of the artists he biographed, qualities that removed them from the common grave of artisans. It is also George Bull who provides some information about this fact:

Theories concerning the nature of art and its history expressed in Lives are also derivatives. Vasari's purpose was to merge into a single work of literary merit all the knowledge that existed about Florentine artists and their unrivaled heritage in the field of art and the theories of art current in intellectual circles in Florence and Rome. In doing so, he also achieved significant success as a critic.

He wrote, above all, for his fellow artists, and his purpose was essentially to establish and maintain artistic standards. [13]

Further on, Bull presents some key words from Vasari's aesthetic thought that served him, in his Lives, reinforced the canons of art in which the Renaissance artist was based, as opposed to the craftsman:

Design. […] could mean project, […], or simply drawing […]. Drawing, for the Florentines, was the solid basis of art: a painter achieved perfection in his final work when it was the result of several preparatory drawings […] At the same time […] the project was the foundation of the fine arts in the sense philosophical that in the creative act the artist had (implanted in his mind by God) an Idea of ​​the object he was reproducing. The figure he drew or sculpted must reflect both what he saw and the perfect form that existed in his mind.

Nature. Although Vasari insists that true art consists in imitating nature […] mere reproduction does not achieve perfection. An artist can be proud of painting a figure that appears to breathe […]. But he must give to his copy of natural forms the memory ever present in his consciousness of the great works of art of the past, as well as the Platonic concept of Idea. Art, in fact, can and must improve nature, although this should never fail to serve as a starting point and reference.

Grace […] is one of the essential qualities of a work of art. […] In contrast to the rigidity of the painters of the first Renaissance and the severity and majestic dimension of Michelangelo's style, grace is a quality that suggests delicacy, skill and appropriateness.

decor. The sense of decorum it is basically and simply that of the sense of adequacy; Thus, if the painter portrays a saint, his gestures, expressions and clothes must reflect the character of a holy man. Later, the meaning was extended to encompass the suitability of a work of art to the location in which it is installed, and the idea of decorum it was used, for example, to attack Michelangelo's frontal nudes [...].

Judgment. Decorum, like grace, depends on the trial of the painter, which is a quality not exactly linked to reason, but to the eye. It operates after that the painter has observed all the rules (of imitation, of measurements, of proportion) and when he is executing the final work quickly and steadily.

maniera can be translated as style ou manner, referring to both the personal style of a single artist and the style of a school. Vasari speaks of a “new style” discovered by Giotto […] and of a “renewal of style” during the second moment of artistic renewal. However, he also makes reference to a “true” or “higher” style, naming the manner of the “modern age” [the third phase] that originated with Leonardo da Vinci and reached perfection with Michelangelo […].[14]


Having established these data on Giorgio Vasari's aesthetic thought, let's return to Manuel Querino and some more points of contact and divergence between the two.

The conviction that Vasari would have been the “father” of the history of Western art is not unanimous, both because of the fact that there was, in antiquity, a tradition of biographies of artists[15], as well as the fact that, to write his work, the Florentine historian appropriated material about artists, produced in his time. It is in this sense that Bull even states that Vasari would approach “plagiarism”[16].

This accusation of plagiarism, present in the Italian's biography, also resonates with that of Querino, having appeared after his death. Eliane Nunes, also sensitive to this affinity between the two artists/historians, recalls that, in the 1940s, the researcher based in Salvador, Carlos Ott, found, in the National Library of Rio de Janeiro, a manuscript called Notions about the origin of the art of painting in the Province of Bahia. This apocryphal document would have served as a source for Manuel Querino to write his books, without him ever citing that source.[17]. For Nunes, Ott would have been prejudiced when he commented on the fact:

We can excuse his mistake, considering that in the first years of his life he was simply a mechanical officer (house painter; later drawing teacher), and that, enthusiastic about studying art in Bahia, he tried to gather everything he could in this regard. His was the merit of safeguarding for posterity countless pieces of information, which would otherwise have been irretrievably lost, as others better equipped for studies did not consider doing so. At the same time he disclosed errors, already repeating mistakes commented on by his anonymous report, with regard to works carried out between 1820, already contradicting his informant without any apparent serious reason[18].

After this citation, the scholar presents the controversy that arose from this text by Ott, listing authors who dedicated their time to giving their opinion on the relevance or not of Quirino for the history of Bahian and Brazilian art, his originality or non-originality, etc. .[19]


The sculptors of Bahia in the golden age, Chagas […], Gomes Jr. and others, were not simple saint makers, they were in fact sculptors because they put love, affection and individuality in their work [...]. This art, characteristically from Bahia and only flourishing there, began to decline after, with the growth of commerce, it went from art to business, and the craftsman replaced the sculptor. Then came the European competition, Italy dumped here “beautiful” images made in rough by atheist anarchists and even less deist machines. Bahian sculpture gave way to the invaders and said nothing more.[20]

Monteiro Lobato summarizes the history of sculpture in Bahia outlined by Manuel Querino. From a primitive, artisanal period, sculpture rose to the field of artistic originality, until reaching its apogee with Chagas and other great names. Subsequently, however, the production of sacred images in Bahia would have turned into a profitable business aimed at export, which would have led to its decline.

In this summary we can see the Vasarian scheme directing Querino's thinking: primitive period, followed by the apogee which, in turn, is followed by decadence.

On the other hand, this synthesis proves what was said by Eliane Nunes: Querino was not just a “simple mechanical officer”, as Ott wanted, but someone who obtained his knowledge about European art and its tradition from training in institutions of Bahian art, created using as aesthetic parameters those absorbed in European academies – which, let us remember, were established based on the experience of the Florence Drawing Academy, created by Vasari.


The art history method proposed by Vasari, in addition to being nurtured by Florentine society, was based on the assumption that producing painting, sculpture and architecture were activities separated from mere artisanal work, close to the definition of the artist as an intellectual similar to the poet and to the philosopher. For Vasari and his contemporaries, this art had a history made up of authors who successively supplanted the mere craft from which their professions had emerged.

In Europe, especially from the XNUMXth century onwards, the growing and irreversible separation between the creative artist and the artisan was noted, the latter being led to repeat the previously given form, without any alteration.

If the situation in Florence, at Vasari's time, had not yet reached such a degree of distance between the artist and the craftsman, as he seems to intend,[21], the situation in Salvador in particular was even more complex. Transplanting Vasari's methodology to the capital of Bahia required Manuel Querino to make a series of adaptations, demonstrating that, in the field of art history, there is no universal method that can be used to reflect on art at any time or place, without taking into account the social and historical peculiarities of the environment to be studied. After all, Salvador is not Florence.


Psychoanalyst Ernst Kris and art historian Otto Kurz – both Austrian – define the social situation of the artist in Greece, in antiquity:

The artist's social position in the Greek city-state was still very limited; it was characterized by “lack of independence, half of the rights before the law, and an unusually low appreciation for its importance” (Schweitzer, 1925). This tradition was transmitted from primitive times and codified, for example, in the Homeric epics. The first expresses disdain for the work of painters and sculptors for being manual labor, which, as a brilliant modern writer pointed out […], was, “in an economy based on slavery”, left to members of the servile class (Zilsel, 1926) [… ]

[…] The second form derives from the dogmas of art itself and achieved, in the Platonic proposition, an enduring meaning: art as mimesis, as an imitation of Nature, can only provide a distant reflection of the true being, of the ideas it tries to reproduce at second hand, imitating its earthly incarnations.[22]

The understanding of the visual arts as “liberal”, therefore less dependent on craftsmanship than on “genius”, would spread in the following centuries across the varied cultures produced on the European continent and in its colonies. Prejudice against artisanal work took a long time to be eradicated from Western society (if it was eradicated entirely). Thus, even after the creation of art academies, artists did not immediately become respected as representatives of the liberal arts. And, if this was the case on the European continent, one can imagine how the matter played out in Brazil, since, in addition to having a country like Portugal as a metropolis – still rooted in medieval commitments – its social basis was the slavery of black and white people. brown.


Historian and anthropologist Vicente Salles, before delving into the issue of “major” and “minor” arts in Brazil, and corporations and slavery in our country, recalls:

It is recalled that, in ancient Greece and Rome, manual labor was assigned to slaves. In the Middle Ages, the institution of handicrafts emerged, regulated by craft guilds [...]. The craftsman or craftsman, in the Middle Ages, was also organized according to the old models of craft guilds, although these never managed to guarantee the social dignity of manual work. Within corporations, a rigid hierarchy is established between owners, partners (dependent workers) and apprentices, which often leads to internal struggles. However, the corporation instituted apprenticeships as a way of recruiting and training the workforce.[23]

The author, interested in demonstrating the “passage” of corporations from Portugal to Brazil, will pay attention to the fact that the Portuguese corporate system would have arrived “in Brazil more by tradition than by an organized system”. And more:

From Portugal, however, the trades and their flags passed to Brazil. The confraternities and brotherhoods spread throughout the colony, grouping workers more by religious ties, and possibly class, than the professionals themselves […]

Despite the colonial system not favoring the organization of corporations, there were always, everywhere, officers and masters of “mechanical arts” who enjoyed prestige […]. They called themselves “artists” and, within each category, as in the European model, there was the possibility of ascension, going from apprentice to officer, from officer to master, this being the highest grade in the craft hierarchy. [24]

The scenario presented by Salles regarding the transposition of the European tradition of craftsmen's guilds to Brazil is complex. If in Portugal they already presented themselves with a certain lassitude – interfering with the country's religious structures –, in Brazil they will demonstrate other characteristics to be mentioned, if we want to understand Manuel Querino's difficulties in transplanting Giorgio Vasari's proposals to Salvador.

Historian Joelson B. Trindade also took a position on the subject. According to him, the practice of arts and crafts in colonial Brazil was an activity of free men. Like this:

The slave, here, enters the trades and arts primarily as an instrument of production for his master, as a bearer of profit for him; it is, moreover, a commodity, it has value. Certainly, it is an important instrument in the limited competition in the internal market, but, as the capital that it is, it cannot decide to interfere or participate in the corporate game.[25]

In other words, when enslaved people enter the structures of the corporate system, they introduce another component to the debate: the racial issue. In this sense, there was not just a gap between the Florentine artistic circuit and that of Salvador. In addition to apparently being stationary in the medieval situation that preceded the emergence of the notion of artist as we understand it today, the situation of art in the capital of Bahia brought this kind of “non-place” occupied by black professionals[26].

Trindade demonstrates how the relations between craft guilds and the regime and slave labor in Brazil were:

Within the framework of corporate production relations, their crossing with the slave labor regime implies greater difficulties and limits in the exercise, experimentation and improvement of men of black origin. To the hierarchy of masters, officers and apprentices mix the categories of free men, slaves and manumitted (or freedmen); of whites, blacks and creoles, pardos or mulattos, and more those of the “negro da terra” or “negro do Cabelo Corredio” – Indian, part or servant of the administration. At the base, the class of servants, numerous: these are identified with the bulk of the slave population, with the mass of colonial labor.[27]

In a society in which, on the one hand, there were attempts to impose the structures of craftsmen's guilds of medieval origin, on the other the emergence of the concept of “artist” introduced by the academies, and – finally – the concrete reality of slavery exploitation, the situation of the artist/craftsman in Brazil could be described as difficult.

However, despite the restrictions on the activities of enslaved people, there seemed to be loopholes for them to carry out their work, thus blurring the hierarchy of craft guilds and, consequently, the distinctions between “major” and “minor” artists:

Outside the corporation, within the slave labor market, there were signs of a master-official apprentice relationship. Only pardo forro or free – and under very special conditions – would reach the position of official judge. Only he would carry the title of master of white crafts with the corporation.

The fact is that blacks and mulattos – especially the latter – participated on a large scale in colonial arts and crafts, that is, within a given social and technical division of labor.[28].


The scholar Luiz Freire, in his unavoidable study on neoclassical carving in Bahia, brings other considerations that form an even more multifaceted view of art producers in Salvador:

The participation of blacks and mulattoes in artistic crafts has been the target of controversy and contradictions. On the one hand, there are those who evoke the laws that restricted the practice of crafts, which prohibited blacks, mulattoes and Indians from exercising certain trades, such as goldsmiths. On the other hand, there are those who rely on the observation that the restrictive laws were not strictly followed, with a flexibility imposed by a predominantly black and mixed-race population.

From a documentary point of view, both are correct, as there are documents that inform the prohibition, as well as others that demonstrate that there were blacks and mulattoes exercising trades restricted to whites, such as goldsmiths, in the XNUMXth century.

If there were black and mulatto captives and freedmen in a trade as controlled as that of goldsmiths, why wouldn't there be in the trades of carver, painter and gilder? The documents do not answer this question […][29]


The coordinates provided by Trindade and Freire present a situation in which a very creative artist suddenly found himself compelled, in certain situations, to develop a purely artisanal activity and, in others, to act as a master. This slipping through the nuances of corporate structures, in which black people (black and brown people) – due to both their social and racial condition – were forced to guarantee themselves between the fissures of this circuit is what, in my opinion, From a glance, the reality of art in Florence in the XNUMXth century differs from that of Salvador in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries[30].

Precisely this peculiarity of the situation of the artist and craftsman in Salvador's slave society was what determined Querino's difficulty in following closely the divisions between professionals linked to the “mechanical” and “liberal” arts.

If such a division was already problematic in several European countries, in the Salvadoran slave society it was even more difficult because it mixed in a problematic way with the ancient disdain for manual labor and the freed or enslaved black contingent.[31].


As mentioned, the situation takes on even more intricate contours with the creation of art academies in Brazil. With its advent, the system of production of works gains a new complication, as the status of the artist contained in the structure of the academy will have to adapt to the reality of corporations and their mechanisms for loosening the rules given by the slave reality.

Scholar Luiz Marques, in an essay on the emergence of art academies and the situation of black artists in Brazil, talks about artistic production in the country when the French Artistic Mission arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Marques, first of all, opposes those who believe that the coordinates brought by the Mission artists were more rigid than those already present in colonial Brazil:

It is perhaps appropriate to warn [...] that it is not exactly the colonial baroque that can suggest, in the historian's imagination, an artistic situation less stratified and subject to normative codes than what the advent of the Mission would result in. Like all corporate culture, Brazilian baroque moved within a rigorously hierarchical structure, where lineages of masters followed one another without recognizing in the artist a spiritual competence similar to that of the man of letters, as occurred in Europe during the first renaissance. , when the Horatian moto became fashionable “ut pictura poetry”.[32]

The black artist, forced to act in the cracks of this corporate culture, begins to see a possibility of change with the advent of the academic institution. But not for the reasons that marked the role of the European artist when the academies emerged. Marques brings here a fundamental contribution to reflect on the changes that academic teaching and its system would entail for a new situation of the black artist in Brazil:

[…] if it is well known that the Academies emerged in late Renaissance Italy as an effect of a sociological and intellectual emancipation of the plastic artist, it is undeniable, inversely, that, in Brazil, the implantation of an academic standard was, to a certain extent, not effect, but cause of this emancipation, preceding rather than succeeding it. This paradoxical insertion of the Academy in the culture of the First Empire is a phenomenon whose importance is perhaps still insufficiently assessed in our artistic historiography.[33]


Marques refers to the artistic environment in Rio that began to undergo a process of transformation following the founding of the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes do Rio de Janeiro, which began operating only in 1826. The case of Salvador, however, involves other perhaps even more intricate elements.

Its art academy was founded in 1877, at the end of the Second Empire, and close to the abolition of slavery (1888) and the Proclamation of the Republic (1889). Until the end of the 1870s, therefore, the academic concept of artist certainly flourished in Salvador, not only due to the resonances of the propositions coming from Rio de Janeiro but also due to the fact that, in the capital of Bahia – preceding the creation of the Academy – , similar institutions were founded[34]. In turn, this “new” concept coexisted side by side with the statutes of corporations and the reality of slavery.

Despite the awareness that it was possible for the artist to be seen as such – that is, as a professional of the stature of a savant –, the daily reality of art in Salvador was still structured in the corporate hierarchy in which the black artist was forced to slide from one position to another, whether he is free or not, whether he is black or brown.

With the arrival of the Academy, he may have come to be seen, for example, as a sculptor. But, being a sculptor and black, he often also had to work as a woodcarver, carpenter, painter, decorator, etc. Anyway, as an eclectic craftsman, a kind of handyman.


All these issues reinforce the importance of the relaunch of Manuel Querino's books by the Salvador City Council. In my opinion, it is worth paying attention to the supposed contradictions in his discourse on art, when he found himself compelled to apply Vasari's methodological assumptions, with the reality of art in Salvador.


Monteiro Lobato, at the end of his review of Querino's book, states that, after the intellectual had carried out that great list of names/biographies, it would be up to new scholars of the subject to “wine the denim”, separating the precious metal (that is, the “ true” artists) from the scrap[35]. I suggest more: I suggest that new scholars of art in Bahia equally focus on Querino's effort to understand and learn, in practice, that Salvador is not Florence, nor a “black Rome”; that thinking about the art of that place (using Lobato's metaphor) is seeking knowledge to be mined in the social, anthropological and aesthetic reality of that community.

A need that, consciously or unconsciously, would lead Quirino, in the second phase of his studies (as Maria das Graças Andrade Leal points out), to dedicate his attention to the presence, not of Florence in Salvador, but of Africa.

[1] – “Bahian Artists”, Monteiro Lobato. IN LOBATO, Monteiro. Reviews and other notes. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1969. Page 153 (Originally edited in Brazil Magazine, n.16, April, 1917).

[2][2] – According to the chronology of the life and work of Manuel Querino, the first edition of Bahian Artists, is from 1909. Lobato, therefore, came into contact with the book from its second edition, from 1911. Now The Arts in Bahia the first edition was also published in 1909, and the second in 1913. “Annex I – Chronology of Manuel Querino” IN GLEDHILL, Sabrina (org.). (Re)presenting Manuel Querino 1851/1923. An Afro-Brazilian pioneer in the times of scientific racism. Salvador: Saga Editora, 2021 pg. 168 et seq.). In the book that brings together the texts that Manuel Querino published in Magazine of the Geographical and Historical Institute of Bahia, the reader is informed that the two texts commented here had their respective first versions published in numbers 34 and 35 of that periodical (NASCIMENTO, Jaime/GAMA, Hugo (orgs.). Manuel R. Querino. His articles in the Magazine of the Geographical and Historical Institute of Bahia. Salvador: Geographical and Historical Institute of Bahia, sd

[3] – The intellectual was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, in 1851. 2023 is the centenary year of his death.

[4] – “Bahian Artists”, Monteiro Lobato. IN LOBATO, Monteiro. Reviews and other notes. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1969. Page 154 (Originally edited in Brazil Magazine, n.16, April, 1917).

[5] – Ditto.

[6] Maria das Graças by A. Leal “Manuel Querino: the Bahian intellectual and his time”, in QUERINO, Manuel. Bahian artists. Salvador: City Hall; Press Color, 2018. Page 16

[7] – Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) painter and architect born in Arezzo, Italy, became known for the publication of his monumental work Le vite de´più eccelenti pittori, scultori e architettori (The Lives of the Greatest Painters, Sculptors and Architects), published in 1550 and a second edition in 1568. This work made part of the Western tradition consider him the “father” of art history. Vasari founded the first art academy, the base of all the academies that would emerge in Italy and abroad – the Academy of Drawing in Florence. Therefore, the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, founded in 1816, and the Academia de Belas Artes in Salvador, founded in 1877, are its distant heirs.

[8]– Luiz Alberto Ribeiro Freire, “Manuel Querino: founder of the history of the arts in Bahia”. In QUERINO, Manuel. The Arts in Bahia. Salvador: City Hall; Press Color, 2018. Pg. 12.

[9] – Eliane Nunes. “The first historian of Bahian art”. GLEDILL, Sabrina. Op. Cit. P. 54. Note: between the first edition of the book, in 1550, and the second, in 1568, 18 years passed, not 20.

[10] – Ditto.

[11] —George Bull. "Introduction". IN VASARI, Giorgio. Vasari. lives of the artists. Penguin Books Ltd., 1981 P. 15.

[12] – As will be seen, Giorgio Vasari was not the first author to dedicate himself to the history of art, based on the biography of artists. George Bull states that Vasari would have used apocryphal biographies of artists, present in the oral tradition of northern Italy. Bull also refers the reader to books current in the period in which Vasari began his writing, such as Comments, by Ghiberti, an apocryphal biography of Brunelleschi and Decameron, by Boccaccio (op.cit. P. 14). Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, in turn, claim that during antiquity numerous biographies of artists were produced, a tradition that would have diminished greatly during the Middle Ages, being resumed [by Giorgio Vasari, and his future followers] in the Renaissance. (KRIS, Ernst/KURZ, Otto. Legend, myth and magic in the artist's image. a historic experience. Lisbon: Editorial Presença, 1988.

[13] —George Bull. “Introduction”, pg. 14,

[14] – Idem p.19/20.

[15] – The Austrian psychoanalyst and art historian, Ernst Kris, takes this position on the tradition of biographies of artists in the West and East, from antiquity to the Renaissance: “a schematic analysis reveals to us that the artist enters history only when the artistic creation it becomes differentiated from other social functions, thus achieving its autonomy; that is, when art no longer serves the exclusive purposes of rituals, but is the result of an independent and legitimate effort. The separation process is slow, encouraging the appearance of artist biographies in just two areas of culture – the Far East and the Mediterranean. The biographical formulas used in these two areas are surprisingly similar. We will only analyze the European tradition, which has a “double-phase” origin. The first phase began in ancient Greece and can be traced back to around 300 BC; the second began in Italy during the Renaissance. There is an interval of “anonymous art” in the Middle Ages, between these two periods […] However schematic this presentation may be, it is sufficient for us if we add that all the biographical formulas contained in Greek and Latin literature were revived in the Renaissance”. KRIS, Ernst. psychoanalysis of art. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, sdp 58)

[16] – “He [Vasari] pressed into his service all kinds of sources, occasionally to the point of plagiarism”. Op. Cit. p. 14.

[17] – According to Nunes, the manuscript was partially published by Carlos Ott, in 1947, in National Artistic and Historical Heritage Magazine. In 2000, Luiz Freire published it in full. Nunes also reports that, according to Ott, the author of the manuscript, written between 1856 and 1876, was José Rodrigues Nunes. Eliane Nunes “The first Art Historian in Bahia”, on. cit. p. 59.

[18] – Carlos Ott. “Notions about the origin of the art of painting in the Province of Bahia. Manuscript transcribed by the author. Rio de Janeiro. National Artistic and Historical Heritage Magazine, no. 11, p. 197-218, 1947 apud Eliane Nunes, op. quote/ p. 57.

[19] – . Despite all the pros and cons listed by Eliane Nunes, what seems to have been in dispute within the history of art in Bahia in the second half of the last century was precisely whether or not to grant the title of “father” of art history to Querino . As a black man with virtually no scholarly education (according to the values ​​of Ott and his followers), could he receive such an honorable title? And what's more: a black man, a “simple mechanical officer”, who, by the way, took for himself a hitherto anonymous manuscript to elevate the protagonism of his name above that of other “better endowed” scholars.

[20] - Monteiro Lobato. Op. cit. p.155/56.

[21] – To show how this transformation of the former craftsman into an artist did not happen immediately – meaning that for a long time artists and craftsmen still worked under the same roof – I bring the description that the author Walter Isaaccson made of the studio of Andrea del Verrochio, from who Leonardo da Vinci was a disciple of, based on documents. The author writes; 'Verrochio's studio, like those of his five or six main competitors in Florence, looked more like a shop – similar to that of the shoemakers and jewelers on his street – than a refined artistic studio. On the ground floor were the warehouse and a work space open to the street, where artisans and apprentices mass produced using their easels, benches, ovens, ceramic wheels and grinders. Several employees lived and ate together in rooms located on the second floor. The paintings and objects were not signed or designed to be works of individual expression. Most of the works were produced collectively, including many of the paintings generally attributed to Verrochio himself. Verrochio & Co.’s goal was more to produce a steady stream of art and commercial artifacts than to encourage creative geniuses eager to find ways to express their originality.” ISAACSON, Walter. Leonardo da Vinci. Rio de Janeiro: Intrínseca, 2017. P.53.

[22] – KRIS, Ernst/KURZ, Otto. Legend, myth and magic in the artist's image. a historic experience. Lisbon: Editorial Presença, 1988. P. 44.

[23] – Vicente Salles. “Crafts”, in ZANINI, Walter (org.). General history of art in Brazil. São Paulo: Instituto Walther Moreira Salles, 1983. 2nd. Volume, p. 1034.

[24] – Same, pg. 146

[25] – Jose Bitran Trinidad. “Colonial Art: Corporation and Slavery”. IN ARAÚJO, Emanoel (org.). The Afro-Brazilian hand: meaning of artistic and historical contribution. 2nd. revised and expanded edition. São Paulo: Official Press of the State of São Paulo/ Museu Afro Brasil, 2010. Pág. 164.

[26] – Add to this situation the gradual process of insertion, in the field of art in Salvador, of the concept of liberal artist – which distances itself from that of craftsman – due to the resonances of the new statute of the art producer that emerged in the country from of the foundations of the art academies in Rio de Janeiro, and later that of Salvador.

[27] – Ditto.

[28] – Idem, p. 165.

[29] – FREIRE, Luiz Alberto R. Neoclassical carving in Bahia. Rio de Janeiro: Versal, 2006. P. 92.

[30] – Luiz Freire, in the aforementioned book, provides some data on this issue: “In Bahia in the 71th century, the protagonists of the temple ornamentation work had the specialties of stuffer, painter and gilder. The existence of the assembler is not recorded, which makes us think that the carver did all the work of carving the wood and fitting the part together to form the whole, having complete control of the process […]. This accumulation of functions may have benefited the final effect of the pieces and ornamental sets as the design, manufacturing and assembly were carried out by the same master” (p.188). Further on, the scholar informs us: “From the beginning to the end of the 88th century, around 94 artists worked in Bahia directly linked to carving and its painting and gilding. About 86 of them were carvers; two were carvers and sculptors at the same time; four were sculptors who did some carving work; and around XNUMX were painters, incarnators, gilders and silverers. We do not distinguish in this list those who only appear gilding, silvering or incarnation, as the painter's training included learning how to gild, silver and incarnate”. (p.XNUMX). FREIRE, Luiz Alberto, on. cit.

[31] – One should not exclude from this context the poorest white layers of the Brazilian population who could rise socially in the hierarchy of corporations, precisely because they are white.

[32] – Louis Marks. “The XNUMXth century and the advent of the Academy of Fine Arts and the new status of the black artist”. IN ARAÚJO, Emanoel (org). on. cit. page 192.

[33] – Ditto.

[34] – On the subject, consult: FREIRE, Luiz Alberto. The hoist…, p.70 et seq.

[35] – “Manuel Querino launches to the public a collection of materials that are worth a revelation. He denounced a very rich deposit of ignored works of art. It is now up to critics to study it in depth, sift through the matter and incorporate whatever is of value to national Art.” LOBATO, Monteiro. Op. Cit. P.158.

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