Antonio Francisco Lisboa, better known as the Aleijadinho, was born by the year 1738 (there is no document testifying to this date). He was the son of the Portuguese architect Manuel Francisco Lisboa and a black slave which he owned, called Isabel. With a strong and persevering character, he acquired notions of music and Latin, learned how to read and write and took lessons in drawing, sculpting and architecture with the masters of his time. In 1812, he became totally paralysed and died in poverty in 1814. His remains are buried in the interior of the Mother Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
Antonio Francisco Lisboa was nicknamed Aleijadinho after a mysterious illness, popularly known at that time as zamparina, which crippled his members. The mutilation didn't weaken him, however; his slaves would tie the working tools to his hands.
The illness is implacable. Taking refuge in isolation, he hides himself with the help of his loyal slaves Mauricio, Agostinho and Januario. He creates beautiful works of art in Sabara and Congonhas do Campo, thus being acclaimed as the greatest Brazilian artist in the colonial period. Whenever a work of art of the great sculptor is before our eyes, we cannot help but have the impression that it is alive.
By 1766, Aleijadinho is commissioned by the Franciscan Order of Assisi to build the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, his masterpiece, in which he establishes his rococo style. His name and fame spread among the Portuguese aristocrats and invitations come from everywhere in Minas Gerais.
Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
Masterpiece of Aleijadinho, with paintings by Manuel da Costa Ataide. The whole ensemble is harmonious, simple and beautiful. The facade of the church, sculpted in soapstone, is magnificent, and the altars reveal the touch of the genious. Sculptures in the pulpits' parapets, in soapstone, depicting biblical episodes (1772); the vault of the main chapel (1773-1774); the project of the present facade (1774- 1775); the tracing of the high altar's rostrum (1778-1779); the reredos of the main chapel (1790-1794), executed in collaboration with the wood carvers Henrique Gomes de Brito and Luís Ferreira da Silva Correia; project of two colateral altars, dedicated to Saint Lucius and Saint Bona, (executed with modifications by Vicente Alves da Costa, 1829).
Church of Our Lady of Carmel
Modifications of the original plan (1770); side altars of Our Lady of Mercy (1807) and Saint John the Baptist (1809); additions of the dressing rooms and dust covers of the altars of Saint Quitéria and Saint Lucia.
Church of Saint Joseph
Project for the reredos of the main Chapel (1773); modifications in the plan for the façade (1772).
Mother Church of Our Lady of Pilar
The making of 4 angels' heads, in wood, for the bearer of Saint Anthony's Brotherhood (1810), later taken to the oratory of the Sacristy (1865).
The Public Fountain of Pissarao
Located at the Alto da Cruz (ancient Rua Larga), in the vicinity of the Church of Saint Iphigenia (1761).
The Governors' Palace
Tracing of the inner fountain in red ink (1752).
Sala Aleijadinho: a few sculptures and plans for the Churches of Saint Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto and Sao Joao Del Rey.