Science

Brazil uprising: statues, paintings… This significant damage was done during looting

Damaged canvases, marked statues, broken Louis XIV clocks: the horde of fans who invaded the places of power in Brasilia on Sunday 8 January plundered everything in their path, including priceless works of art.

The three buildings destroyed by the attackers, the Presidential Palace of Planalto, the Supreme Court and the seat of the Congress, are treasures of contemporary architecture by Oscar Niemeyer. The futuristic structures with the symbolic curves of this ingenious architect are for many included in the UNESCO classification of the urban fabric of the Brazilian capital as a World Heritage of Humanity in 1987. Each of the three buildings, which had an impressive number of broken windows, was also full of rare furniture, works by great Brazilian modernist artists, or other items donated to Brazil by foreign countries.

In a press release, the National Institute of Artistic and Historical Heritage of Brazil (Ifan) “deeply regrets the damage caused” and assured that an examination will be carried out soon to “assess the needs for restoration.”

Clock made by Louis XIV watchmaker found on the ground.

Several iconic works were damaged. Among them is the granite statue “Justice”, created in 1961 by the Brazilian Alfredo Cheschiatti, which is located in front of the Supreme Court on Trois Powers, opposite the presidential palace. This monumental work, more than three meters high, represents a seated woman with a blindfold and a sword in her hand.

On Sunday, she was hung on her chest with the inscription “Perdeu, mané” (“You lost, poor idiot”). The expression was used by Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso when addressing Bolsonaro, who challenged his reliability of electronic ballot boxes in November, shortly after Jair Bolsonaro lost to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the second round. presidential elections.

A clock made by Balthazar Martineau, watchmaker of King Louis XIV of France, from boulle marquetry, was found on the ground, on the third floor of the Presidential Palace, a very damaged brown and gold chest, a gaping hole instead of a clock. dial. According to the presidency, it was a gift from the court of the Sun King to the Portuguese crown, brought by King João VI to Brazil in 1808 when he fled Lisbon at the approach of Napoleonic troops.

This watchmaker made only two watches of this type: others, half the size of those damaged in Brazil, are on display at the Palace of Versailles. The Brasilia-style restoration is considered “very difficult” by Rogerio Carvalho, who is responsible for the legacy of the presidential palaces, a press release quoted him as saying.

The Mulatto painting by the artist Di Cavalcanti, one of the masters of Brazilian modernism, exhibited in the Salon of Nobility on the third floor of the Presidential Palace, was seriously damaged. The 1962 painting, which depicts four women in lush floral decorations, was stabbed “seven times” by rioters, the president said. “Its cost is estimated at 8 million reais (about 1.4 million euros), but such works are usually sold at auctions five times more expensive.”

Also damaged was the “desktop” of Juscelino Kubitschek, the far-sighted former president of Brazil who was behind the construction of Brasilia, a capital built ex nihilo in the middle of the savannah and opened in 1960. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and his only daughter Anna-Maria, this dark brown table was torn down by rioters and used as a barricade to block law enforcement access.

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