Born In: Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Rodolfo Amoedo was a Brazilian painter, decorator and designer best known for paintings such as Portrait of a Woman and The Death of Atala. He was raised by actor parents amidst financial difficulties. After studying art for some time at Pedro II college, Rodolfo worked as a decorator. He resumed his education in art at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes. His big career breakthrough came in 1879 when he won a scholarship to study in Paris for his painting The Sacrifice of Abel. His time in Paris was spent studying with esteemed art teachers. He also became a member of the highly reputed Salon and held exhibitions of his work. He returned to Brazil about a decade later and became an art professor and the vice director of the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes. Many of his students went on to earn great acclaim in the world of arts. Rodolfo was also known for painting panels at some of the most important buildings in Brazil. He passed away in 1941 in relative obscurity. However, his work is on display currently at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
Died At Age: 83
Born Country: Brazil
place of death: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Notable Alumni: Académie Julian, École Des Beaux-Arts
City: Salvador, Brazil
education: Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, Rio de Janeiro; Academia Imperial de Belas Artes; École des Beaux-arts, Paris
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Rodolfo Amoedo was born on December 13, 1857, in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. However, the exact birthplace and origins of Rodolfo were still doubted to some extent. Many believe that he was born in Salvador. There is also speculation that perhaps he was born in Rio de Janeiro. Plenty of documents suggests that he spent a big chunk of his childhood in Salvador, which had the historians concluding that he was born in Salvador.
Based on records by historians, it was claimed that both his parents were actors. He grew up in relative poverty which also impacted his education to a great extent. At the age of 11, he moved to Rio, to study art at Pedro II college. He left college without completing it as his parents were unable to fund his education.
He returned home and began working as a decorator. He was invited to work there by a family friend. Documents state that he worked at Teatro São Pedro, a famous performing arts theatre.
Willing to complete his education, he again moved to Rio in 1873 and enrolled at Liceu de Artes e Ofícios do Rio de Janeiro. There he studied painting under the tutelage of esteemed painter Victor Meirelles. Rodolfo’s artistic instincts grew extensively under the mentorship of such a master. In order to further hone his skills in art, Rodolfo enrolled at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes.
His time at this academy played a great part in establishing Rodolfo’s style of work. He was trained by teachers such as Francisco Manuel Chaves Pinheiro, Agostinho Jose de Mota and Joao Zeferino de Costa. From these teachers, he learned sculpting, designing and painting. After completing his education there, Rodolfo began working professionally.
He began painting around the mid-1870s. His big breakthrough came in 1878 when he painted the classic Sacrifice of Abel painting. The painting earned him huge acclaim along with the Aiba travel fellowship consideration. However, it took him one more year to earn the fellowship. The Brazilian Academy’s fellowship earned him the chance to study painting in the European cities in 1879. He then worked and lived in Paris until 1887.
In Paris, which was deemed as the artistic and cultural hub of the western world, he joined the Académie Julian. However, he was planning to get enrolled at the École des Beaux-arts, which he finally managed a year later. There he learned the art of painting under the guidance of acclaimed painters such as Alexandre Cabanel, Paul Baudry and Puvis de Chavannes. These artists specialized in academic painting, a style with which Rodolfo was hugely fascinated.
In 1882, he joined the highly revered Salon. It was a centuries-old art exhibition that took place at Académie des Beaux-Arts annually. From mid 18th century to the late 19th century, it was considered the biggest art festival in the western world. Becoming a part of Salon was a major career turnaround for a young Rodolfo.
Throughout this time, Rodolfo painted consistently, mostly focusing on the biblical and mythological scenarios. He also painted in the Indianismo style. The Indianismo style was a Brazilian artistic movement that got extremely popular in the first stages of romanticism. Painting in the style further helped Rodolfo gain popularity back home among the Brazilian artists.
Finally, after spending close to a decade in Paris, in the company of some of the greatest artists of that time, Rodolfo returned to Rio de Janeiro in 1888. In the same year, he became an art professor at the Academia. However, later, he became a teacher at Escola Politécnica. It is now an engineering college and is known as the oldest institute in the American islands. In 1889, a coup caused the downfall of the Brazilian Empire, which also impacted the academic world of Brazil. Rodolfo renamed the School of Fine Arts to Escola Nacional de Belas Artes.
Some of his students went on to become major artists in their own rights. Some of his pupils at the art school were Arthur and João Timóteo da Costa, Eliseu Visconti, Lucílio de Albuquerque, and Cândido Portinari.
Rodolfo also held exhibitions of his painting and sculpting work at the institute. He earned a gold medal at the Exposição Nacional Comemorativa do 1º Centenário da Abertura dos Portos do Brasil in 1908 for one of his exhibitions.
Along with keeping up with his painting and sculpting works, Rodolfo spent a great deal of his time teaching different aspects of arts to the younger generation. He later held the position as an art professor at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes. He taught various styles of paintings at the institute, such as tempera, encaustic and watercolour paintings.
Throughout the following years he held multiple positions at the institute, such as vice director and the acting director.
In 1909, he was hired to paint the panels at the Supreme Court of Brazil. Furthermore, he also drew panels at several other important establishments such as Biblioteca Nacional and the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro.
In 1918, he was promoted to the position of the Second Chair at the School of Painting. He held this position until 1934.
Among some of his most popular works are Abel’s Offering, Sulking Woman, The Departure of Jacob, Jesus in Capernaum and Female Study. Along with that, multiple sculptures art-pieces of him can be viewed at several museums across the world.
Rodolfo Amoedo was married. The details about his personal life are very scarcely in the public domain. However, it is now a well-known fact that despite being one of the greatest artists and art teachers in Brazil, Rodolfo was soon forgotten.
He passed away on May 31, 1941. He died a poor man. Following his demise, his widow had to borrow money to finish his last rites. The details about his children are also not known.
His worth among the history of Brazilian artists was well established decades later. His paintings hanging at the National Museum Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio De Janeiro have been a major attraction for art lovers from across the globe.
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