What’s in a Street Name? Brazilian Art Under My Feet

For months I climbed up the long winding hill every day to the apartment building. The trek up the steep slippery incline–Rua Timóteo da Costa in Alto Leblon, took from 10-20 minutes, depending on how tired I was. For sure I was in the best physical shape of my life because of that daily hike. Curiously, I never questioned or wondered who the street was named after. There were streets in Rio named after politicians, nobles, military heroes, and dates–like Rua 7 de setembro (Independence Day), Visconde de Pirajá (Viscount of Pirajá–Joaquim PIres de Carvalho e Albuquerque–aka Colonel Santinho–fought in the war for Independence)and Princesa Isabel (Princess Isabel–responsible for signing the Lei Aurea which freed enslaved Brazilians in 1888).
Yesterday, I discovered the origin of my old street name while in the Pinacoteca Museum in São Paulo, The museum displays a few works by the painter, Artur Timóteo da Costa, including a self-portrait:


This painter of African descent, lived a short life from 1882-1923. Born in Rio de Janeiro on October 5, he had an older brother, João, who was also an artist. Artur studied at the ¨Escola Nacional de Belas Artes’ and won a travel prize to study in Europe. He and his brother both worked on the Brazilian Pavillion for the Expo in 1911 in Turin, Italy.

Unfortunately this young artist died when he was only 40 years old. One can only imagine what masterpieces he might have created had he lived longer. Nevertheless, he left his mark on the Brazilian canvass and the Rio de Janeiro grid!


For more information and gallery of his works:


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