ARTH349 - Art and Architecture in Context: Colonial Brazil

Prof. Monica Dominguez
Office Hours: Wednesday 1:00-2:00 pm


Course Information | Course Requirements | Calendar | Links to Research Resources


course information


This course studies artifacts and monuments created in colonial Latin American, with particular emphasis on Brazilian Baroque art and architecture. Combining guided visits to churches, monasteries and museums, with class instruction, students will have the unique opportunity to learn about artistic styles, techniques, iconography, systems of production, and colonial history, by working directly with buildings and artworks located in historic centers declared World Heritage by the UNESCO



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course requirements

Attendance to excursions and lectures 20%: it is mandatory to attend to all excursions and lectures listed below. Each one of those sessions is worth 1% of your final grade. The only excused absences are those due to medical reasons and supported with a doctor’s note. The remaining percentage of this mark will be assessed taking into account your participation in class.  


Excursion assignments 15%: for every excursion listed below you will receive an assignment. You must complete each one of those assignments while, or shortly after, each excursion. The submission deadline is one day after the excursion.


Reading assignments 10%: before every lecture session you should read the articles listed in the schedule and contained in your course reader.  For each session, I will distribute in advance a questionnaire that must be submitted by the beginning of the lecture in question. 


Oral report 25%: each student must give a 10-15 min. presentation in class based on the readings and case studies to be discussed in each session. There will be four students presenting in each session. The presentation topics will be chosen during the first session on Jan. 12.  


Travel log 30%: for the main assignment of this course you will compile a complete catalog of the colonial sites we visit (see list below). This travel log will contain:


- Basic identification of each monument, stating its name, artists that participated in its creation (architects, painters, sculptors, etc.), dates of construction/decoration.


- Photos/illustrations of exterior, interior, plan, and main decorative elements (altarpieces, ceiling paintings, pulpit, chapels, etc.)


- A short description, including the iconographic program (main religious figures and decorative elements represented), and the visual effect attained with the overall design and decoration.


- List of Monuments:


·                           São Bento Church, Rio de Janeiro

·                           Nossa Senhora do Pilar Church, Ouro Preto

·                           São Francisco de Assis Church, Ouro Preto

·                           Bom Jesus de Matozinhos shrine, Congonhas do Campo

·                           São Francisco de Assis Church, São João del Rei

·                           Cathedral, Mariana

·                           São Francisco de Assis complex, João Pessoa

·                           Nossa Senhora do Carmo complex, João Pessoa

·                           Capela Dourada, Recife

·                           São Bento Church, Olinda

·                           Fortress of Santa Catarina, Cabedelo




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course calendar

Excursion Schedule


Jan. 5        Rio de Janeiro: Museu Histórico Nacional; São Bento Church


Jan. 6        Ouro Preto: Inconfidência Museum, Nossa Senhora do Pilar Church,

                               São Francisco de Assis Church, and general tour of the colonial city


Jan. 7        Congonhas: Bom Jesus de Matozinhos shrine

                   Tiradentes: Sto. Antonio Church, and general tour of the colonial city

                               São João del Rei: São Francisco de Assis Church


Jan. 8        Mariana: Cathedral; Sacred Art Museum


Jan. 16      Recife: São Pedro dos Clérigos; Capela Dourada


Jan. 17      Olinda: São Bento Church; Church of A Conceição dos Militares


TBA          João Pessoa: São Francisco de Assis complex; Nossa Senhora do Carmo complex 
TBA          João Pessoa: Stº Antonio/Fonte monastery, Stª Terezinha church, Igreja de São Bento Gonçalves/Mosteiro, Igreja da Misericórdia



Class Schedule


Jan. 12      Introduction to the course

                               Course overview: themes to cover, distribution of topics for oral reports, introduction to research tools and assignments


Jan. 14      Architecture and urbanism in colonial Brazil

                   Readings: Bury, Hoornaert, Telles, Delson


Jan. 19      Brazilian Baroque art I: altarpieces and ecclesiastical furniture

                               Readings: Carreri, Avila


Jan. 21      Brazilian Baroque art II: ceiling painting

                               Readings: Avila


Jan. 24      Aleijadinho: myth and reality

                   Readings: Ramos, Benton


Jan. 26      Art and religious experience in colonial Brazil

                   Readings: Kubler, Freedberg


Jan. 31      African presence in the colonial art of Brazil

                               Readings: Tribe, Montes


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links and study guides

Below some of the electronic resources you can use for your own research (some of them may require to establish an UDel proxy connection):

General Dictionaries and Databases:

The Grove Dictionary of Art (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Getty Vocabularies: Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online, Union List of Artists Names, Thesaurus of Geographic Names

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Britannica Online (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Biography Resource Center (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

ARTstor (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Analysis of Visual Images

Olga’s Gallery: Christian Saints Index, New Testament Notes, Religion Notes Index

Roman Catholic Saints by Name

Baroque Art Links:

Periods in art history: Baroque Baroque

Baroque architecture

Baroque sculpture

History of Baroque architecture

Francesco Borromini: structure and metamorphosis

Sites about Brazilian Art and Architecture:

National Historical Museum, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil: Body & Soul

Opulence and Devotion: Brazilian Baroque Art

Brasil barroco entre céu e terra

FMLOA collection: Colonial Brazil

Unesco World Heritage Sites in Brazil

Cidades Históricas Brasileiras

Aleijadinho’s homepage

In Aleijadinho’s Shadow

Moderna Online: Aleijadinho

Congonhas’ site


* To establish a proxy connection click here


Course Information | Course Requirements | Calendar | Links to Research Resources


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