Pedro Alexandrino Borges

Pedro Alexandrino Fernandes dos Santos (São Paulo, 26 of November of 1856 – São Paulo, 19 of July of 1942) was a painter, designer, decorator and teacher Brazilian. He had an important participation in the Brazilian naturalistic movement within the plastic arts. Much of his work is based on oil paintings on canvas of landscapes, indoor environments and still life. He developed his work in the state of São Paulo, mainly in the capital and in the city of Campinas.

Pedro Alexandrino Borges was born in the city of São Paulo, at Rua Libero Badaró, at the time, Rua São José. He is the son of Francisco Joaquim Borges Albuquerqui, a descendant of miners, and Rosa Francisca de Toledo, from São Paulo, born in the present Freguesia do Ó. He was baptized in the Church of the See on January 6, 1857.

Pedro Alexandrino had in his family relation with the artistic field. His father was a player of musical instruments in churches and parties and painter of objects used in typical regional celebrations. His grandfather would be Francisco Rabecão, who carried in the surname the instrument he played. It was the grandfather responsible for literacy.

Since childhood and especially in adolescence, develops the desire for painting. In 1867, at the age of 11, he began to work with the French decorator Claude-Paul Barandier in the decoration of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Campinas. In São Paulo, in the same period has worked in palaces, houses and other churches. In 1873, he works as a painter-decorator in churches and private homes with the builders Simão da Costa and José Lucas Medeiros. With the painter Mato Grosso John Boaventura da Cruz (formed in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts) had his first lessons as a painter in 1880. João Boaventura came to São Paulo, accompanied by a group of law students from Rio de Janeiro. The two worked together in the decoration of the church of Pirapora. Also in this period, Pedro Alexandrino begins to develop his first individual works, in residences and mansions of the capital and the interior of São Paulo. But in 1883, he began studying with Almeida Júnior, in his atelier, in Rua da Glória, in the neighborhood of Liberdade, serving as a model for some works. He also studied with José Maria de Medeiros and Zeferino da Costa.

His academic training begins at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, in Rio de Janeiro, as a scholarship student, financed by the government of the state of São Paulo. It was encouraged by the Spanish painter-decorator Villaronga, who was in São Paulo during this period and financed Pedro Alexandrino in times of financial difficulty. Joaquim Egidio de Sousa Aranha, the Marquis of Três Rios, could have been his mentor, but he denied helping a patrician. Before, the artist had already decorated the house of the marquis (now home of the Polytechnic School of USP). Between 1890and in 1892, he was in the National School of Fine Arts, still in the capital of Rio de Janeiro, but did not finish his studies. Despite receiving prizes and being recognized for the works, Pedro Alexandrino is experiencing financial difficulty. He resides with his wife, Ana Justina Moreira, whom he married in 1884, in a room, using a mat as a bed. During two years (1895 and 1896), he was professor at the Lyceum of Arts and Crafts of São Paulo. In April 1888, his wife dies, victim of typhus. In 1894, receives gold medal of the Third Class by the work Kitchen in the Field. In the same year, he opens atelier on Lavapés Street, inCambucineighborhood, in São Paulo.

Later, in 1897, he traveled to Europe, with his new wife, Cândida Rosa Maria, and Almeida Júnior. Especially in Paris, he has contact with several artists, among them: René-Loui Chrétien, Antoine Vollon – another inspiration for the predilection for the paintings of still life – and Monroy. Attends the Fernand Cormon Academy, Quinelau Community School and the Lauri studio. In France, it leads a calm life, without great preoccupations, but with diverse walks and visits. He receives invitation to go to the United States from the Baron of Rothschild. At the same time, a Brazilian politician is interested in putting pictures of Alexandrino in the palace ofChamps Elysées. Although he is conditioned to accept the Baron’s invitation, Alexandrino returns to Brazil and, arriving here, is informed that the paintings could not be displayed on the wooden walls of the palace. Back in Brazil, with no money to return to Paris in 1905, he holds an individual exhibition at the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios with 110 paintings, 84 of them still lifes, a genre that consecrated him. He was professor of some modernists like Tarsila do Amaral (from 1917), Anita Malfatti (from 1919) and Aldo Bonadei (from 1925). Holder of several awards, he exhibited his work in Brazil and abroad. Having always dreamed of a return, he returned to Paris in 1907, staying in French lands until 1909. On this trip, however, there is no information.

Shortly after, at the beginning of 1907, Alexandrino realizes his desire and returns to Paris. If Pedro Alexandrino could have lived in Paris forever. The light town was his favorite subject in every conversation and he used to call it “culture city”. After another return to Brazil, he lived in the Republic neighborhood, at Rua Sete de Abril, and later at Major Sertório Street, Vila Buarque, also in the central region of São Paulo.

Pedro Alexandrino liked to gather friends in his atelier on Fridays for tea and cake, served by his wife, Dona Candinha. They talked about various topics, but no comments were made about other people. Alexandrino kept his hickory accent even when he used French vocabulary. Pedro Alexandrino had as great admirer the writer Monteiro Lobato, who saw in his works a way to make art a daily practice of absorption. Lobato wrote articles recommending visits to Alexandrino’s studio. Despite being invited to frequented more noble spaces, next to the great society, the artist usually refuses them and prefers to maintain his style more homemade and personal.

Career development
During and after World War I, the nationalist movement gains strength among the social strata. Pedro Alexandrino inserts in this context and makes contests to the permissiveness of the Brazilian government in the entrance of foreign non-Western art in the country. So much that criticizes and is not inserted in the modern artistic movements. It also criticizes technological developments and the mechanization of society.

In the 1920s, Pedro Alexandrino was awarded the Academy of Fine Arts in Genoa. The repercussion was great and there was movement of residents of the May 13 and Abolition Streets so that they would be called Pedro Alexandrino. In addition to Monteiro Lobato, Pedro Alexandrino had many admirers, among them: Paulo de Siqueira, Prestes Maia, Julio Mesquita Filho, Amadeu Amaral, Pedro Calmon Duran, Nestor Pestana, Venceslau de Queirós, among others.

In this period, in São Paulo, it becomes a matter of status to have a painting of Pedro Alexandrino at home. Having him brought the admiration of neighbors, friends and high society. Due to the high number of sales, Pedro Alexandrino remains few paintings and can not open exhibitions. Being a restricted person, little is known about the religious choice of the artist, but it is believed that he was an atheist, despite having a lot of contact with priests of the Catholic Church. Individualist and afraid of losing his space in the artistic field, Pedro Alexandrino refuses to value other artists who paint still life. He believes that this option is unique and exclusively his. In 1936, the proposal of the government Italian, Pedro Alexandrino receives the title of Commander of the Crown of Italy, granted by SM Vittorio Emanuele II.

In old age, he loses his enthusiasm for art, but pictures are still painted in his studio every morning. On July 19, 1942, at 4:00 p.m., Pedro Alexandrino dies, at age 85, a victim of an influenza that progressed to pneumonia. The Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo has flagged the half-mast. The classes at the School of Fine Arts were suspended. Your funeral is paid for by the state.

Almeida Júnior is attributed the suggestion to Pedro Alexandrino to dedicate himself to painting of still life. His relationship with Almeida Júnior was intense, especially at the beginning of his career. In addition to serving as a model for paintings, such as Conversion of St. Paul, Pedro Alexandrino copied, in the form of training, the paintings made by his master. The artist said that Almeida Júnior did not know what his version of certain paintings was and what was his student.

In his first exhibitions, Pedro Alexandrino is criticized for his personal and strong style, characterized by fillings. Over time, however, opinions have changed, and the artist has become popular because of the easy understanding of the content of his works.

Still life is considered one of the most difficult genres to be represented, because in analyzes of works, small details and objects have great significance to understand the intentions of the artist.

Before even going to Europe, Pedro Alexandrino was already known in the country for the painting of still life. But he needed to specialize and learn new techniques. At the beginning, it had great influence of Stephen Silva. He stroked smoothly, in which he did not appear to be brushing. He preferred the small pictures, still artificial and with little spontaneity. Later, he begins to paint larger paintings and creates his own style, with quick, short, vibrant, meticulous and rigorous touches.

Among the main characteristics of Pedro Alexandrino is his vigorous trait and the options by arranging the objects of the scene in places that are normal and natural. In most of his works, the objects are situated above a rustic wooden table, semi-covered by a towel, as in The Cup. It also values the concave and convex forms.

In addition to fruits and flowers, Pedro Alexandrino likes to demonstrate his abilities from the painting of metallic objects, which require, besides the correct choice of colors, the representation of the reflection they provide. It is known as “Master of Metals”. It is not limited to representing only one type of metal (bronze, silver, among others).

It is understood that Pedro Alexandrino is a painter who does not commit excesses in his artistic representations, both in color and quantity of objects in scene. In this way, his works are easy to understand and do not escape reality. What draws attention in his work is not the details, but the whole. It is not, therefore, that his paintings are not rich in detail. The cheese is a frequent object in his works, characteristic common to the paintings of Chrétien.

Enlightenment is another important detail of the works of Peter Alexandrino. This is repeated in most of his paintings. Part of the right side of the observer, leaving therefore the dark background or in the twilight. This characteristic, Pedro Alexandrino acquired in France, during the period in which it was there. He learned to use wide, cluttered brushstrokes and low paint to achieve these tones. By the characteristics of enlightenment, his works are usually seen as dramatic and sincere. It is also said that the works of Alexandrino are replacements of old paintings and, therefore, old-fashioned for the time. Pedro Alexandrino prizes for representing everyday habits and food, sometimes with luxurious objects and expensive fruits, or simple and rustic objects. Among the favorite fruits in portraying were foreign: grape, apple, pears, nuts, apricots and peaches. Pedro Alexandrino did not always have the money to buy these imported fruits. That is why, on many occasions, he received the fruits along with the orders of paintings. He also portraye donions, mangoes, fruit of the count, carambolas, jabuticabas, bananas, pineapples, oranges, figs, pomegranates and cashews. He rarely portrayed mammals, one of the few was a rabbit, hung on a nail, already dead, as an element of a picture. Among the birds, he painted ducks, geese and turkeys. He liked to portray, in his paintings, refined crustaceans, present in aristocratic and bourgeois food, like prawns and lobsters.

Generally speaking, in the period before his trip to Europe, Pedro Alexandrino merely makes copies of what he sees, with simple themes and delicate brush strokes. In France, it is not limited to a single school and oscillates between realism and impressionism, with spontaneous and natural brushstrokes. But, this is lost in his return to Brazil, when he recovers the heavy style and simple compositions.

Pedro Alexandrino did not dedicate much to landscaping and, therefore, he was little known for his activities in this area. This phase was more intense in youth. He even painted landscapes of Pirapora and Salto de Itu. There was no order whether to perform works of large or small sizes. Here, their brushstrokes are barely perceptible, they appear naive, perhaps by the beginning of their career.

Before his first trip to Europe, Pedro Alexandrino holds an exhibition at the Trade Guild. It took 21 still lifes and five landscapes. The landscaping was not what Alexandrino came closest to and repeated the choice for colors used in Europe and that had little relation with Brazil. This feature will only change with the birth of modernist painters. Pedro Alexandrino developed much of his collection as a landscaper in Paris. It used as background the Garden of Luxembourg and the field of Villeneuf.

Pedro Alexandrino was not a portrait artist, although he painted some canvases with this theme, attending to orders.

Pedro Alexandrino arrives to paint interiors, in small quantity – about ten -, but with high quality and Dutch influence.

Pedro Alexandrino was not a person concerned with appearance, had little vanity. But he did not like to reveal his age, on the grounds that an artist should never tell it. He was characterized by his friends as a homely person, who ran out of the spotlight. He did not like to go in luxurious surroundings, preferring the convenience of his home and his studio.

Personal life
He married Ana Justina Moreira in 1884. She died in 1888, a victim of typhus. However, shortly thereafter, she falls in love with her sister-in-law, Candida Rosa Maria (Dona Candinha), who was only 17 at the time. The couple had two children, Rubens and Van Dick, who still die children, due to lack of family appeal.

Source from Wikipedia