Monday, May 3, 2010

A Palace for Art

At the foot of Rio de Janeiro’s Corcavado mountain, home of the famous Brazilian monument Christ the Redeemer, there stands a high wrought iron fence surrounding a lush patch of rainforest. At the center of this tropical garden, down a drive lined in towering Imperial palms, stands this ornate stone palace.

The Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage is a school devoted to the fine arts in Rio de Janeiro. Since 1975 the institution has been housed in a spectacular 1920’s stone mansion built for shipbuilder Henrique Lage by the architect Mario Vodrei. An exuberant work of eclecticism this opulent structure cites influences from various styles and historical periods.

The grand arched entry leads into a lavish courtyard surrounding a rectangular stone pool. The dramatic architecture leads your eye up and away to the sweeping view of Corcovado and the distant figure of Christ the Redeemer. That first dramatic glimpse into the courtyard is captured here in a painting I completed after a visit several years ago.

After visiting and falling in love with the mansion I’ve recognized it in various television spots ranging from a fabric softener commercial to interiors and exteriors for the Snoop Dog video “Beautiful”, from which these images are taken. The interior shot is a grand room to the left of the entry with spectacular black and white veined marble lined walls and an intricately coffered ceiling.

This romantic location is both a masterpiece of eclectic residential architecture as well as a truly inspiring palace for the arts.
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