|João António Correia
Painter and teacher
João António Correia was born in Porto on 26 December 1822. He was the son of António José Correia, a textile businessman, and Tomásia Rosa Graça, who lived in the old Largo do Corpo da Guarda.
In the academic years of 1836-37 and 1837-1838, he studied Drawing at the Royal Academy of Maritime and Trade Affairs of the City of Porto (an institution converted inn 1837 into the Polytechnic Academy of Porto) as a volunteer student. In 1838-39, he enrolled in the 1st year of Mathematics, and passed the final exam. He continued the Drawings course as a regular student. For the exams, he drew a replica of the "Vénus ligando as asas de Amor". He was approved unanimously and received an award.
In the academic year 1839-1840, he applied as a volunteer student to attend the Historical Painting classes at the The Porto Academy of Fine Arts. He spent 7 years at this school studying Pictorial Anatomy and Linear and Optical Perspective, as well as Historical painting. He won the 1st prize with a painting entitled "A morte do conde Andeiro", [The death of Count Andeiro], at the 1st triennial exhibition of 1842. On 29 July 1843, while attending the 4th year of the course, he competed for the position of substitute teacher of Drawing at the Polytechnic Academy. However, his application was cancelled as he did not have the minimum age required by law. The position was occupied by Thaddeo Maria d’Almeida Furtado. He extended the attendance in the 5th year of the painting course as a volunteer student, in order to improve his training.
Between 1848 and 1854, he lived in Paris with funds provided by a group of Porto personalities, among which the priest and patron Manuel de Cerqueira Vilaça Bacelar.
Together with the painter Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856), a disciple of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) he prepared the application to the Paris School of Fine Arts. We do not know, however, if he was accepted, but it is likely that he sought training in private workshops. We know for a fact that the attended the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts of Paris, and contacted with various artistic trends, such as classicism, naturalism and romanticism, which influenced his painting.
In 1851, he was appointed substitute teacher of the Historical Painting class at the Porto Academy of Fine Arts, and later rose to the position of Professor. He was appointed on 25 November 1857 and took up office on 10 December of the same year.
In 1858, João Correia introduced the live model and the Nude Class in the Historical Drawing course programme. He supervised his students closely, among which Soares dos Reis, Marques de Oliveira, Silva Porto, Henrique Pousão e Artur Loureiro, and invested in the practical aspect of classes. He served as director of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts from 25 October 1882 until his death in 1896.
As a painter, between 1842 and 1887 he participated in almost all triennial exhibitions of APBA, and received the highest praise. His paintings were also exhibited in the shows organised by the Society for Promoting Fine Arts.
Most of the commissioned work was for portraits of the Porto bourgeoisie and royalty, although he also painted portraits of other painters, musicians and colleagues, using a style resembling that of Roquemont. For example, he painted the portrait of Manuel de Clamouse Browne (1823?-1870), the founding partner of the Porto Trade Association and of Constantino António do Vale Pereira Cabral (1806-1873), founder of Club Portuense.
His early paintings show all his talent. He depicted religious themes for the Valongo Church (1845), including two paintings for the side altars representing the "Custódia adorada por Anjos" [Custody Adored by Angels] and "Cristo na Agonia" [Christ in Agony], and a sketch for the tribune of the main chapel, which was not completed, on "Adoração dos Pastores" [The Adoration of the Shepherds]. These paintings are currently not in the church. He is also the author of the painting in the tribune of the main chapel of Santo Ildefonso Church in Porto, dated 1858 and entitled "Santo Ildefonso adorando a Custódia" [St. Ildefonso adoring the Custody].
João António Correia painted royal portraits, for e.g., of D. Pedro V for the S. João National theatre, already missing, and of D. Maria II and D. Luís for Palácio da Bolsa (headquarters of the Porto Trade Association), as well as self-portraits, showcased in the triennial exhibitions at APBA (one dated 1848 and another from 1863).
He also participated in the set designs for the royal arrival in Porto of D. Luís I and D. Maria Pia, in 1863. He used the lithograph technique to portray personalities and lithographs his paintings, as seen in the portrait of the musician Francisco Eduardo da Costa (1818-1855).
He produced historical paintings, for example, the canvas "Rainha Santa distribuindo esmolas aos pobres" [Queen Santa Isabel handing out alms to the poor], dated 1877 (Soares dos Reis National Museum), which reflects the ever-present theme in his career, and the "Auto de Fé", dated 1869, also shown in the same Museum, as well as a painting shown at the 10th Triennial Exhibition of APBA and transformed into a lithograph.
His most popular painting is "O Negro". Painted in 1869, it belongs to the collection of the Soares dos Reis National Museum. It is an unusual canvas not only because of the exotic theme but also because of the exuberance of its processing.
Other works by the painter are part of collections of various museums and national institutions, such as FBAUP Museum, the Fernando de Castro House-Museum, the Porto Trade Association, in Porto, the Teixeira Lopes House-Museum, in Vila Nova de Gaia, the Municipal Museum of Viana do Castelo, the Almeida Moreira House-Museum and Grão Vasco Museum, in Viseu, the Machado de Castro National Museum, in Coimbra and the National Museum of Ancient Art, in Lisbon.
Shortly before he died, part of the work of João António Correia was donated, at the express wish of the painter, to the Porto Academy of Fine Arts. However, most of his legacy was auctioned and scattered in many public and private collections.
He died at 1am on 16 March 1896 at his house in n.º 32 do Largo do Corpo da Guarda (which no longer exists) in Porto.
On the 28th of that month, APBA paid tribute to the teacher and director of the Academy, and commissioned the inventory of his work to João Marques da Silva Oliveira, who listed the works to be purchased by the Academy.
The following year, the house of the painter held an auction of the legacy, announced in the newspaper "Comércio do Porto" containing 75 paintings (his own work, works by his brother by other artists, such as João Baptista Ribeiro and João Glama), in addition to engravings, lithographs, photographs and plaster work.
Currently, João Correia is considered an important figure in 19th century Portuguese art for his work at the Academy of Fine Arts, as a teacher and director, at a time when Fine Arts education was created, but also because he contributed to the renewal of the portrait in the second half of the 19th century.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2011)