Brazil protests: Artwork suffers damage beyond repair

A vandalized painting depicting a political figure lies on a room at the National CongressImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,

A vandalised painting depicting a political figure lies on a room at the National Congress

When thousands of rioters ransacked Brazil’s monumental government buildings on Sunday, political leaders condemned the grave attack on the country’s democratic fabric.

In waves of green and yellow, thousands of far-right supporters of Brazil’s ex-leader, Jair Bolsonaro, wreaked havoc on Congress, the Supreme Court and Presidential Palace in Brasilia, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

But the three buildings also held a rich collection of art, some of which suffered irreparable damage. The government has mourned the loss of key parts of the artistic collection, which it said represents an important chapter in its national history.

Image source, Reuters

“The value of what was destroyed is incalculable because of the history it represents. The collection is a representation of all the presidents who represented the Brazilian people during this long period that begins with JK [Juscelino Kubitschek, president from 1956 to 1961]. This is its historical value”, the Director of Curatorship of the Presidential Palaces, Rogério Carvalho, said.

The works of art damaged by rioters include:

As mulatas, by Emiliano Di Cavalcanti

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Damage to a Emiliano Di Cavalcanti painting is inspected.

As mulatas, a painting by Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, was found punctured in seven places. The government said it was worth at least 8 million reais (£1.2m; $1.5m).

Bandeira do Brasil, by Jorge Eduardo

Bandeira do Brasil, a painting of the flag of Brazil, was displayed on the ground floor of the presidential palace. The artwork was found soaked in water after rioters had flooded the floor using fire hydrants.

O Flautista, by Bruno Giorgi

The bronze sculpture, valued at 250,000 reais, was destroyed, with pieces of it strewn throughout the third floor’s hall of the presidential palace.

Wooden sculptures by Frans Krajcberg

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Wooden sculpture by Frans Krajcberg

Protesters broke this piece’s wooden branches and threw them away. The piece is estimated at 300,000 reais.

Mr Krajcberg was originally from Poland but ended up in Brazil after World War Two. His entire family died in a concentration camp.

Chairs designed by Polish architect and designer Jorge Zalszupin

The seats, which were used by members of the Federal Supreme Court, were reportedly torn from the ground and video circulating on social media shows them being thrown into the street.

Mr Zalszupin was a Warsaw-born Jew who survived the Holocaust by fleeing to Romania before moving to Brazil – he was considered one of the country’s most important designers.

Desk used by President Juscelino Kubitschek, the Brazilian leader who ordered the construction of Brasilia

The government said the table was used as a barricade by the rioters. An assessment of its general condition is yet to be made.

Showcase table by Sérgio Rodrigues

The glass window of display, which held information about the acting president, was smashed.

Balthazar Martinot clock

The 17th-Century grandfather by Balthazar Martinot (1636-1714) – Louis XIV’s watchmaker – was a gift from France to King Dom Joao IV, who ruled Brazil and Portugal.

There are only two timepieces by Martinot like this in the world, according to the Brazilian government.

“The other is on display at the Palace of Versailles, but is half the size of the piece that was completely destroyed by the invaders”, the government said in a statement.

An art specialist said the damage was beyond repair.

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