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7 July 2013 / leggypeggy

At home with Aleijadinho and some beautiful smiles

Aleijadinho's House

Sheila, Mario and Bruna—all smiles at Aleijadinho’s House

During our first full day in Ouro Preto, super sleuth Mario managed to track down the home of Aleijadinho, Brazilian sculptor extraordinaire. Actually we think Mario stumbled upon it by chance—perhaps drawn there by the two pretty young women who live in the house and run the accompanying souvenir shop.

Aleijadinho's House, Ouro Preto

Aleijadinho’s House

Mario was so taken with the house (and those feminine smiles) that he found his way there the next day with Poor John and me in tow.

What a terrific find. Sheila and Bruna were delighted to see us and, of course, Mario, and gave us a tour of the ground floor and upstairs.

We understood about a quarter of their explanations regarding the structure and furniture (a lot of both is original). Sheila and Bruna speak only Portuguese. Mario speaks several languages and his Italian seemed to be an adequate ‘bridge’. He says he caught every third word. Poor John and I caught about every eighth, so you figure it out.

We were good tourists, but poor customers. We oohed and aahed in all the right places, and enjoyed a swig of cachaça (sugar cane liqueur), but we didn’t buy anything.

Aleijadinho's House, Ouro Preto

A section of original wall

That was okay. Ever the gentleman, Mario bought some chocolate later that afternoon and took it back as a gift. He says that in return he got the biggest, broadest, most beautiful smiles he’s ever seen.

A bit more about Aleijadinho

Born in Ouro Preto 1730 or 1738, Aleijadinho was originally called Antônio Francisco Lisboa. His father was a Portuguese carpenter (later elevated to an architect) and his mother was an African slave.

Aleijadinho worked as a day labourer on a church his father designed, and was soon working as an architect himself. He designed and built the Chapel of the Third Order of St Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto, and also did the carvings for the building.

Aleijadinho's House, Ouro Preto

A water feature on a stone wall

In the late 1770s, he began to show signs of a disfiguring disease (probably leprosy) and ultimately lost his fingers and feet. But he continued sculpting with a chisel and hammer tied to what remained of his hands.

The 12 prophet sculptures at Congonhas are considered his finest work.

Note: there is a theory that Aleijadinho never existed , but I’m no historian so will let you make your own investigation if you’re interested.

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  1. lmo58 / Jul 7 2013 10:02 pm

    I love the stone wall to which the water feature is attached. And surely Baco isn’t travelling with you? Please tell me he belongs to someone you met along the way. Really good photos as always. Thank you Peggy.


    • leggypeggy / Jul 8 2013 7:32 am

      Ha, ha, ha! Good one Louise. No Baco is not travelling with us. He belongs to Aleijadinho’s house. That said, we were tempted to kidnap three dogs the other day—Peanut, Butter and Jelly.


  2. skippersy / Jul 9 2013 11:13 am

    Nice photo of Baco….

    Aside- If you come across some dogs which are native to South America, maybe you can get a photo or two?? Here is the listing:

    Dog Breeds of Latin America
    (Dog breeds that originated in South America, Central America, Mexico…)

    Brasilian dog breeds:
    Fila Brasileiro
    Brasilian Terrier
    Buldogue Campeiro

    Mexican dog breeds:
    Mexican Hairless dog
    Tepeizcuintli (Miniature Xoloitzcuintli)

    Argentinian dog breeds:
    Dogo argentino

    Peruvian dog breeds:
    Peruvian Hairless dog
    Peruvian Inca Orchid

    Ecuadorian dog breeds:
    Ecuadorian Hairless Dog:



    • leggypeggy / Jul 9 2013 8:20 pm

      Oh wow, Sy, thanks for the info! I’ll be on the lookout. Pity I didn’t have the list last year when we also went through Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. We’re only in Brazil and Peru this time.


      • skippersy / Jul 10 2013 1:14 am

        It is very difficult to find pure breed dogs in any country… but I am sure that a specific country like Brazil can have breeds from other South American countries. I own an Irish Terrier which is kind of a rare breed, but can been seen in Manhattan and other populated cities some times. In Manhattan I see about two a year. However, when my IT dog friends go to Ireland on vacation, they never see Irish Terriers while out and about… Second, ask dog owners in South America about the name they use? I heard that they do not use any specific name, just call their four legged dog “Perro (Dog)” for the most part! Enjoy your travels and bush camping… and finding newly discovered places to see and photograph.

        Travel safely!


      • leggypeggy / Jul 11 2013 10:29 am

        We are travelling in the countryside now and haven’t seen a lot of dogs lately—certainly not pure-bed ones. But I was surprised to see so many schnauzers in Rio and Curitiba. They were everywhere.
        But I will ask about dogs when I can match up a dog with its owner. Too many dogs are running wild.


  3. gpcox / Jul 24 2013 9:44 pm

    A very unique home, but I want Baco.


    • leggypeggy / Jul 24 2013 10:12 pm

      Yeah, Baco was cool, laid back and kind of smelly. 🙂



  1. Congonhas and its 12 prophets | Where to next?

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