By Marilyn Diggs
July 21, 2015
View works of art, listen to classical music concerts, attend cultural lectures and drink tea in one lush and peaceful setting. Sounds too good to be true? It all happens at the Maria Luisa and Oscar Americano Foundation, in São Paulo.
In Honor of his Wife
The spacious home built in the 1950s was the country residence of Oscar Americano de Caldas Filho and his family. As a civil engineer he made his fortune by founding and directing a company that constructed many public works and buildings. When his wife Maria died, Oscar left his home as a museum in her memory. It was his way of thanking São Paulo for his prosperity. Thus, the 75,000-square-meters of woods and 2,500-square-meter house became a park and museum displaying paintings, rugs, furniture, objets d’art and commemorative memorabilia from Brazilian history. After the museum opened in 1974, new donations, mostly from the couple’s children, were added.
Seeing Eye to Eye – the Portrait Gallery
Visitors can’t help but be impressed as they enter the house and see two giant tapestries woven in 1768 by Globelins in France. Their former owner was British poet and writer, Lord Byron. Their theme is the New World, an appropriate introduction to the Brazilian artwork and furniture showcased in the museum’s collection.
Continue walking to see paintings and objects from the colonial time, Imperial Period (1823-1889) and the Old Republican Era (1898-1930). Explanations are in English as well as Portuguese. An important collection of paintings by the Dutch painter Frans Post (1612-1680) hangs in the dining room. The 24-year-old artist was enchanted by Brazil and remained 30 years. His somber colonial landscapes were painted in the dark European colors instead of tropical ones, and maintain the popular composition of his time – sky and land. Since Post was not a prolific painter, this museum’s collection has a significant sampling.
Portraits of Brazilian royalty are extensive. Princess Leopoldina as a child caresses a parrot, and baby Prince Dom Alfonso nestles in from a carriage window with a view of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian modern art is scarce but well represented by Portinari, Di Cavalcanti and Lasar Segall. These three were instrumental in changing the direction of Brazilian art during the early part of this century.
Toothpicks and Tea
The collection of porcelain and china includes lovely pieces from the Dutch East India Company and Delft China. Empress Maria Leopoldina’s 98 plates are each painted with a different flower motif. Dancing animals, cupids, birds and much more decorate the curious collection of elaborate sterling silver toothpick holders.
After your visit, relax in the charming tea room where you will be served a traditional high tea, Brazilian style. Light meals are available too.
Be sure to ask for the concert schedule for the season.
Here is an excellent opportunity to learn about Brazilian heritage through a wide range of objects and cultural experiences.
Fundao Maria Luisa e Oscar Americano. Av. Morumbi 3700. Tel: 3742-0077.
Marilyn Diggs is an American living in Brazil for over twenty-five years. She is a freelance writer, artist, lecturer and author of nine books – two about Brazilian art history. As an art reporter and travel writer she has two monthly columns in Sunday News, Brazil’s English language newspaper that circulates in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. She has written for the Miami Herald, UNESCO’s Museum International and several in-flight magazines. Marilyn has a degree in Latin American Studies and is often contracted by intercultural training services to give talks on expat challenges. www.mdiggs.com
Previous articles by Marilyn:
Beautiful Meets Bizarre in Brazilian Swamps
Brazil: Head for the Hills for an Authentic Festa Junina
Fazenda Capoava: Tourism – Brazilian Style
Dune Walk in Northeastern Brazil
Everythings Coming Up Roses in Holambra, the City of Flowers
Around Brazil: Embu Das Artes – History, Headdresses and Handicrafts
Full Steam Ahead! Chilean Vineyards by Train
A Trip to Easter Island: Beyond the Obvious
Atacama Desert, Chile – I Came, I Saw, I Explored
Journey through the Fjords of Patagonia
Around Brazil: Jap Mountains, When Nature Calls
Around Brazil: Living the Amazon
Brazil: A Spa that Takes Care of Body and Soul
Around South America: Puyuhuapi – Chiles Patagonian Secret
Around South America: Looking for Adventure in Chiles Patagonia
Around South America: Road Trip through a Forgotten Land – Aisn, Chile
Conquering Cape Horn
Around Brazil: Hang-Gliding Over Rio
Around Brazil: Sailing in Paraty
Santiago: Gateway to the Chilean Experience
The Enchanting Easter Island
Nature and Nurturing in Chile’s Lake Region
Chilean Patagonia: Going to the Ends of the Earth
Around Brazil: Adventure in the Pantanal and Bonito Part 2
Around Brazil: Adventure in the Pantanal and Bonito Part 1
Spending the Night in the Lost City of the Incas – Machu Picchu
Brazil: Happy Moonlit Trails To You
Brazil: Paradise Found – Fernando de Noronha