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Painting Brazil: Vistas of João Batista da Costa

João Batista da Costa, Blue Cave, ca. 1898, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wikimedia Commons.

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Painting Brazil: Vistas of João Batista da Costa

This collection of paintings in idyllic settings is the legacy of artist and illustrator João Batista da Costa. Batista da Costa was active in the late 19th and early 20th century in Brazil. Despite a difficult start in life, Batista da Costa’s natural artistic acumen pushed him to exceptional creative heights and earned him several notable accolades.

João Batista da Costa, Petrópolis
João Batista da Costa, Petrópolis, ca. 1910, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wikimedia Commons.

Early Acumen

João Batista da Costa was from the Itaguaí municipality of Rio de Janeiro.  He was orphaned at the age of 8 and spent his childhood being shuttled between relatives and in orphanages. It was during his time in an orphanage that he was introduced to creative pursuits such as music and art. His talent was noticed by his teacher, Antônio de Souza Lobo, another accomplished Brazilian artist. The support of his teacher and others lead him to continue his artistic training first at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro. Here, he became acquainted with other notable Brazilian painters such as Zeferino da Costa and Rodolfo Amoedo with whom he attended classes until his graduation in 1889.

João Batista da Costa, Landscape
João Batista da Costa, Landscape, ca. 1900 to 1925, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wikimedia Commons.

Life in Europe

Following graduation from Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in 1889, Batista da Costa continued his art education in Paris at the esteemed Académie Julian in 1896. During this period in Europe, he also traveled to Germany and Italy before finally returning to Brazil in 1898. 

João Batista da Costa, Church on the Hill
João Batista da Costa, Church on the Hill, unknown date, São Paulo Museum of Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wikimedia Commons.

Return to Brazil

The return to Brazil marked a significant turning point in the artist’s life. Batista da Costa had just lost his first wife and found himself severely depressed. Although his early works also betray his preference for natural elements over the figurative form, the paintings from this period of his life show the significant predominance of nature in his works.

João Batista da Costa, Woodland with a Creek
João Batista da Costa, Woodland with a Creek, unknown date, São Paulo Museum of Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wikimedia Commons.

Idyllic Scenes of Brazil

João Batista da Costa’s works are a homage to the rich Brazilian countryside. He depicted rural landscapes and scenes from Brazil in a style that fits into the parameters of realism and hyperrealism and is reminiscent, both in quality and rhythm with the works of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and other artists of the Barbizon school.

Batista da Costa’s dedication to rural landscapes resulted in a significant oeuvre of serene and contemplative compositions. The fresh air of the setting is delightfully apparent in his works.

João Batista da Costa, The Prisoner (Fenced Cow)
João Batista da Costa, The Prisoner (Fenced Cow), ca. 1905, São Paulo Museum of Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wikimedia Commons.

Later Life

João Batista da Costa continued to receive medals and recognition for his paintings throughout his life. After overcoming the loss of his first wife he married again and fathered four children. He became a professor at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro in 1906 and continued to work there until his demise in 1926 at the age of 60.


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Art, architecture, history, and dachshund enthusiast from New Delhi, based in Los Angeles.

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