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Manoel Bandeira (painter)

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Manoel Bandeira (painter)

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Last update: 16/02/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

The painter Manoel Bandeira was born in Limoeirinho, in the municipality of Escada, Pernambuco on 2 May 1900. He signed his name as M. Bandeira or Manoel with the letter o, in order to mark the small difference in relation to the name of the poet, also from Pernambuco, Manuel Bandeira. He was a humble, prudent and simple individual, extremely connected to his Recife roots. About himself, he would say:

"I had no masters. I learned to paint just as the barber’s apprentice learns to cut hair: watching the master work. Painting – watercolours, for example – I began by looking at the pictures, just like pen-and-ink. Despite not following schools, I have great admiration for the Spanish painters, from Grieco to Ignácio Juruaja".

Manoel Bandeira began to paint in 1912, in the Lyceum of Arts and Crafts. When it came to technique, he used to draw with pen-and-ink and ink or stiletto – in the case of works on plaster paper – as well as elaborate paintings with watercolour, gouache and oil. The plastic artist also produced a rich collection on the architecture of Colonial Brazil: he reproduced houses, roofs, farmhouses, bars, windows, streets, houses, attics, squares, gas lanterns, slums, carriages, quays, people in the fashions the time, street vendors – in short, a cultural landscape, a whole sociological and historical documentary of a region and its inhabitants, at different moments of its evolution.

Bandeira drew a series of personalities: Joaquim Nabuco, Maurício de Nassau, Vidal de Negreiros, Dom Pedro I, Dom Pedro II, Felipe Camarão, Dom João VI, Frei Caneca, Henrique Dias, the Count of Arcos, Estácio Coimbra, Gervásio Pires Ferreira, Oliveira Lima, Barreto de Menezes, João Fernandes Vieira and many others.

He also documented numerous Northeast municipalities through his work: Recife, Olinda, Goiana, Paulista, Cabo, Jaboatão, Abreu e Lima, Camaragibe, Moreno, São Lourenço da Mata, Palmares, Ribeirão, Goiana. In this sense, Manoel Bandeira drew with pen-and-ink the Episcopal Palace of Olinda, the ruins of Fort Gaibu, Fort Pau Amarelo, the Carmo Convent in Goiana, the Boa Vista Parish Church, the Church of Santa Cruz in Recife, the churches Our Lady of the Good Hour, St Sebastian, the Basilica do Carmo, the Monastery of São Bento and the Seminary in Olinda, the ruins of Fort Tamandaré, the municipalities of Serinhaém and Itamaracá in the period of Dutch domination and the Church of St Peter of the Clerics, in Recife.

The artist also drew a series of illustrations of the northeastern folklore for the book Lobishomem da porteira velha by folklorist Jayme Griz; the cities Ouro Preto, Congonhas, Vila Rica, Sabará and São João d’El Rei in the State of Minas Gerais; The Castle of São Jorge, Alfama and Mouraria, the Elevador de Santa Justa and the Tower of Belém in Lisbon; miniature vignettes representing heads of angels, churches, windows, lamps, chairs, as well as cap stones, initials, among others.

The poet Manuel Bandeira, a great fan of the painter Manoel Bandeira, wrote about him in the newspaper Diario de Pernambuco: “Namesake, the baton is yours”. Not very ambitious from a material point of view, the artist was an employee of Pernambuco Tramways, today CELPE, and lived only on the salary he received as a professional designer, and some illustrations he did for books and newspapers.

When once asked why he did not move to the South of the country, in order to succeed in art and to have a better life, the painter immediately responded:

“Because I cannot take my Recife and without it I cannot live.”

Manoel Bandeira died on 3 March 1964. Due to the military coup that occurred that year, the press recorded very little about his death. His works were published in 1967, by the State Public Archive of Pernambuco, three years after his death. With the intention of perpetuating the plastic artist, so that he not fall into obscurity, the Pernambuco State Government, at the request of the anthropologist Waldemar Valente, named a street and a school group after Manoel Bandeira.


Recife, 18 July 2003.
(Updated 8 October 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.

sources consulted

PERNAMBUCO. Secretaria de Turismo, Cultura e Esportes. Desenhos de Manoel Bandeira; originais do Arquivo Público Jordão Emerenciano. Recife, 1983.

VALENTE, Waldemar. Bandeira, o pintor. Recife: FJN, Instituto de Pesquisas Sociais, 1984. (Trabalhos para Discussão, 17)  

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Manoel Bandeira (pintor). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.