Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography
Antônio Francisco Lisboa ("O Aleijadinho") (1720/38–1814) (Alexandre Machado, CC BY-SA)
The most famous Brazilian artist of the colonial era, Antônio Francisco Lisboa was a pioneering architect and sculptor— today his work can be found in Mina Gerais, Brazil largely in the architecture and statuary of churches. He was the illegitimate mixed-race child of a Portuguese carpenter and his black slave, and as DCALAB author Mónica Dom ínguez Torres writes "Despite being a mulatto within a highly discriminatory social order, Lisboa achieved during his own lifetime recognition as an artist, as well as a certain economic standing." Although a degenerative disease eventually left him deformed and unable to move his limbs (thus his nickname "O Aleijadinho" or "Little Cripple"), the artist continued to work, reportedly carried by slaves and with tools tied to his hands. His masterpieces, the churches of St. Francis in Ouro Preto and S ão Jo ão del Rei and the sculptures at the Sanctuary of the Our Lord Jesus of Matosinhos in Congonhas do Campo, exemplify the artist's spatial design innovations and his personal rearticulation of the European rococo style of the era. Though his late Baroque style became unfashionable at the end of the artist's life, Brazilian nationalism in the mid-twentieth century led to a rediscovery of his work both nationally and internationally, resulting in his status as a Brazilian national hero, dubbed by art historian Germain Bazin a "Brazilian Michelangelo."