Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Conceptions of education in the devotional and catechetical painting in Portuguese America: Captaincy of Minas Gerais, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
Thais Fonseca

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


The idea of religious painting as the "bible of the illiterate" attributed to Pope Gregório Magno (590-604) helped to reinforce over the centuries the importance of images as instruments of evangelization and catechesis. Understood as "oral instruction of religious things", catechesis is a modality of education and has been widely practiced in Portuguese America since the early years of the arrival of Europeans in the early sixteenth century. Although writing was also used, this education operated in a context where only a small portion of the population had the skills of reading and writing. It is not surprising, therefore, the power that the images had in the formation of the population of Portuguese America, and which also aimed at the construction of a "civilized" order. However, the intense use of the images did not dispense the presence of writing, which sometimes divided space with visual representations. Some of the most recurrent cases, the votive tablets, or ex votos, expressed the common practice of visually representing miracles and graces obtained from saints of devotion, accompanied by small written descriptive texts in Portuguese. In addition to these ex votos, many paintings executed inside churches had written explanatory records in Portuguese, as well as quotations in Latin. The presence of these two types of painting was very strong in the mining region of Portuguese America, the Captaincy of Minas Gerais, during the eighteenth century and first decades of the nineteenth century, and related to the context of development of a "baroque culture" in that region. In this text, we are interested in discussing the visual and textual narratives present in the ex votos and in the paintings of churches, and the educational conceptions present in them, besides indicating important questions about the presence of the Portuguese language written in supports different from the conventional ones - the paper, the book - that could reach more people, even those who did not have the skills of reading or writing. We used as sources of research ex votos produced in Minas Gerais between 1720 and 1830, and some paintings of biblical passages that decorate the interior of churches of the same region, and made between the second half of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century. We analyzed these sources in comparison with works of that era that expressed the most valued conceptions of education, works aimed at moral and religious formation, as well as documents belonging to lay brotherhoods that, in their statutes, expressed in writing their conceptions about the education of their Members and society in general. In the study of the inscriptions present in the paintings, we will also use some analytical principles that consider the different levels of literacy from the characteristics of the writing practiced.