The Twelve Prophets of Aleijadinho

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They stand on a hilltop in the mountains of Minas Gerais in Brazil - twelve dramatic figures, twelve Old Testament prophets soundlessly crying their warnings to mankind. There they have stood for almost two centuries, masterpieces by that strange, unhappy sculptor, Antonio Francisco Lisboa - or as he is better known, Aleijadinho, "The Little Cripple." These figures, some mirroring in their faces the calm certainty of their prophecies and some reflecting the desperation of their warnings, have an impact upon the mind and the emotions of the modern viewer fully as great as their effect must have been upon those for whom they were originally carved- the adventurers of the lusty gold mining region which was 18th century Minas Gerais. Their impact draws added depth from the realization that they bear also the mark of the anguish of their creator. Aleijadinho, the mulatto son of a local builder, grew up untutored amid the building fever of the mining centers, grew up to endure throughout the last half of his long life the physical torment and the mental suffering of a painful and mutilating disease. Yet, developing his self-schooled talent, he stamped the hallmark of his creativity upon the religious art of the whole region. In this volume, the late artist-photographer Hans Mann provides a sensitive pictorial study of the Twelve Prophets, of the six scenes of the Crucifixion which stand just below the Prophets on that windy hillside at Congonhas do Campo, and of other representative examples of the sculpture of Aleijadinho. A brief text by the photographer's wife, Graciela Mann, provides the information and background needed for the fullest enjoyment of the pictures. The prose poem "When the Statues Speak," by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, sets the dramatic mood for the photographs of the Prophets themselves.

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