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  Agostini, Angelo (1843 - 1910)        

Angelo Agostini (Vercelli, Italy 1843 - Rio de Janeiro, 1910). Caricaturist, illustrator, draughtsman, art critic, painter. While still a child, he moved to Paris, where he completed his studies in drawing in 1858. He lived in São Paulo from 1860 onwards, and four years later founded, together with Luís Gonzaga Pinto da Gama (1830-1882) and Sizenando Barreto Nabuco de Araújo (1842-1892), the liberal weekly, Diabo Coxo. In 1866, together with Américo de Campos and Antônio Manuel Reis, he founded the journal, O Cabrião, a weekly publication in which he published satires on the Paraguayan War. Also of note in this publication were a series of small articles, Instruções Secretas dos Padres da Companhia de Jezus, in which he satirised the strategies of the religious order for accumulating wealth, and the caricature, O Cemitério da Consolação em Dia de Finados, a satire on the Christian holiday. This cartoon generated a major polemic on the pages of two other periodicals, O Diário de São Paulo and Correio Paulistano. He moved to Rio de Janeiro and began working on the periodical, O Arlequim, in 1867, and the magazine, Vida Fluminense, in 1868, which for the first time published a children's story by him, Nhô Quim ou Impressões de uma Viagem à Corte. From 1869 to 1875, he collaborated on the magazine, O Mosquito, in which he published, in 1872, a caricature satirising the painting, Passagem de Humaitá [Passage of Humaitá] (1868), by Victor Meirelles (1832 - 1903). In 1876, he founded the Revista Ilustrada, in 1879, publishing as editor the series of caricatures, Salão Fluminese-Escola Brazileira, in which he satirised works submitted to the salons of fine arts. In one of these, entitled, Oferecido ao Eminente Pintor Victor Meirelles de Lima, the artist took an ironic view of the canvases, Batalha dos Guararapes (1875/1879) by Victor Meirelles, and the A Batalha do Avaí (1872/1877) by Pedro Américo (1843-1905). During the abolitionist campaign, Agostini published a series of caricatures in the magazine, entitled Cenas da Escravidão, in which, making references to the Stations of the Cross, he presented, in 14 illustrations, various forms of torture to which captive negroes were submitted. In 1889, he travelled to Paris, where he remained until 1895, when he returned to Rio de Janeiro and founded the magazine, Dom Quixote. He worked on the magazine, O Malho, in 1904, and was a member of the founding team of the children's magazine, O Tico-Tico, in 1905.

Critical Commentary
Ângelo Agostini was born in Piedmont, in Italy, moving to France shortly afterwards. He began to study drawing in Paris in 1858. The following year, he accompanied his mother, a lyric singer, on tour to Brazil, staying in São Paulo where the young Italian began work as a draughtsman. In 1866, he became the founding editor of the magazine, O Cabrião, in 1866, which was well received despite its short life (1866-1867). In this publication, Agostini drew his well-known satires of the Paraguayan War, becoming involved in one of the first disputes involving the Brazilian press: a caricature on All Hallows' Day, which led O Cabrião to be the first national publication to be sued.

At the time, Agostini was developing his drawing style. Unlike other cartoonists of the day, his line did not tend towards caricature, but was hard, with academic characteristics and realist ambitions, his sketches displaying techniques of perspective and seeking an illusion of depth, and his drawing showing an inclination towards a rounded modelling, guaranteed by the artist's use of stumps. In 1868, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he used these academic conventions to create what would become the first cartoon strip in Brazil: As Aventuras de Nhô-Quim & Zé Caipora. These stories were published in the magazines: Vida Fluminense, O Malho and Dom Quixote, and featured two rustics recently arrived in the city who lived both in a world that revolved around the court as well as with all kinds of entities from the mythology of rural Brazil.

In 1876, Agostini founded the magazine, Revista Ilustrada. A milestone in the national press, this was one of the first publications to exert its autonomy during the Second Empire. It did not accept sponsorship and lived from the proceeds of its cover sales. In the magazine, Agostini published his famous series of caricatures of the Emperor, Dom Pedro II (1825-1891). At this point his line intensified its realism. Despite the satirical situations, the artist sought a lifelike quality that was almost photographic in certain articles, with the use of the image intended to provide a visual explanation of its content. Revista Ilustrada took part in the campaign for the abolition of slavery and served as a mouthpiece for anticlerical and republican views. According to Joaquim Nabuco, the "Revista Ilustrada was the anti-Slavery bible of the illiterate". Agostini also wrote regular art criticism in the same magazine. In his articles, he defended painters who showed their dissent from the prejudices of the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes - Aiba [Imperial Academy of Fine Arts], even penning articles in support of Pinto Bandeira (1863-1896), whom Aiba had rejected. He also made a passionate defence of the Grimm group, showing great sympathy with the unconventional behaviour of these landscape painters.

In 1888, shortly after receiving Brazilian citizenship, he had an illegitimate daughter with his pupil, Abigail de Andrade (1864-s.d.), an event that was considered a scandal. The resulting controversy obliged Agostini to abandon the editorial of Revista Ilustrada and go to France. On returning to Brazil at the start of the 1890s, he sold his stake in the Revista, which continued to publish his work sporadically until 1898. He then founded the magazine, Dom Quixote, where he also published As Aventuras de Nhô-Quim & Zé Caipora. With the passage of time, he dedicated himself increasingly to cartoon strips, working as a cartoonist on O Malho from 1902 onwards. In 1905, he designed the lettering for the magazine, O Tico -Tico, for which he wrote children's stories, such as A História do Pai João, which was published in 1906. From the 1890s onwards, he participated more frequently as an artist in exhibitions, taking part from 1901 until his death, in all of the Exposições Gerais de Belas Artes [General Exhibitions of Fine Arts]. When Agostini died in 1910, he had become the greatest and most influential cartoonist of the Second Empire (1840-1889), dominating other draughtsmen such as Pereira Neto and Hilarião Teixeira.

Atualizado em 31/01/2013