Born Dec. 29, 1903, in Brodósqui, São Paulo; died Feb. 7, 1962, in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian painter and graphic artist.
Portinari, the son of an Italian farmhand, attended the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro from 1918 to 1928. He spent the following two years in Europe, where he came under the influence of expressionism, surrealism, and the work of Picasso. Beginning in the mid-1930’s, Portinari devoted himself to the realistic portrayal of the life of the common people— Indians, Negroes, farmhands, and the inhabitants of favelas (slums). He often endowed his figures with a lofty and heroic character. His works are marked by powerful generalized forms, soft chiaroscuro, and precise line. Portinari produced easel paintings (Coffee, 1935; Portrait of R. Rolland, 1936), cycles of paintings (Refugees, 1945), murals (at the Ministry of Education in Rio de Janeiro, 1936–45; at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., 1941; at a college in the city of Cataguases, 1948— 49), large panels (War and Peace, 1955, United Nations, New York), and numerous prints.
Portinari was a university professor in Rio de Janeiro from 1936 to 1939. He was awarded national prizes and the International Peace Prize (1950).