Portrait of a Young Man

Portrait of a young man, n.d.
Oil on canvas
46 x 38 cm
Kirklees Museums and Galleries

About the artist

ROBERTO BURLE MARX

ROBERTO BURLE MARX (1909 in São Paulo – 1994 in Rio de Janeiro) was a notable Brazilian painter, landscape designer, interior and jewel designer, architect, engraver, screen printer, ceramicist, landscape designer and upholsterer. At the age of 19, he travelled to Germany with his family, where he lived for two years benefitting particularly from the cultural life in Berlin and greatly enjoying the botanical gardens and museums in Dahlem. In 1929 he attended classes at the Degner Klemm atelier. On his return to Brazil, he attended the ENBA (1930-34) and studied under Leo Putz (1869-1940), Augusto Bracet (1881-1960) and Celso Antônio (1896-1984). In 1932, he designed his first garden (Schwartz Family) in Rio de Janeiro, at the invitation of Lucio Costa (1902-1998), who did the architectural design with Gregori Warchavchik (1896-1972). From 1934 to 1937, he served as the Director of Gardens and Parks of Recife in the state of Pernambuco. Frequently, he would travel to Rio de Janeiro to attend classes under Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) and Candido Portinari (1903-1962) at the Art Institute of the University of the Federal District. Portinari invited him to be his assistant in 1937. As a landscape designer, he contributed to the most prominent modern architectural achievements in Brazil (e.g. Pampulha, Ministry of Education and Health, Brasília, Flamengo Park and Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro), working in collaboration with major Brazilian architects, including Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), Lucio Costa and Affonso Eduardo Reidy (1909-1964). His passion for plants, botany and gardening dated back to his childhood, and in 1949 Roberto Burle Marx was able to build a huge plant collection at his 800,000 m² farm in Campo Grande, Rio de Janeiro, and went on various expeditions throughout Brazil with botanists collecting and cataloguing plant samples in order to reproduce the Brazil’s plant geography in his landscaped gardens. By the same token, he became fully engaged with the conservation of plants and the environment. Burle Marx sent four works for the Exhibition of Modern Brazilian Paintings. His pen and ink drawing Lapa deserved a mention in Sitwell’s preface of the catalogue (‘the beautiful large drawing of the tiled roofs of a town’) and in The Observer (‘the architecture is observed with wit and a sound topographical sense’). It was sold to Lord Sherwood, the Under-secretary for Air who opened the exhibition, for £12.12d.0s. In 2011, it was bought for US$ 12,500 at an auction of the New York Sotheby’s by Rio de Janeiro-based Mauricio Pontual Galeria de Arte and belongs now to a private collection. One of the three oils, Fish, was auctioned by Christie’s (also in New York) for US$ 9,200, in 1992. The other two, Portrait of a young man and Landscape, belong nowadays to the collections of the Kirklees Museums and Galleries’ and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, respectively.

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