International Journal of Art & Design Education

Walter Smith's Influence in Brazil and the Efforts by Brazilian Liberals to Overcome the Concept of Art as an Elitist Activity

Volume 3.2   1984



During the first half of the nineteenth century, art had become an activity of the elite in Brazil. The Imperial Academy of Fine Arts was a vehicle of a vested interest: to provide art for a landed nobility. In contrast, so-called 'popular art' was practised by artists who were regarded as mere artisans by the upper class. The industrial progress of the United Sates was attributed to its well-organized art education, in particular, the teaching of drawing and of applied and industrial art. These developments were reported in 'O Novo Mundo' (The New World) which applauded Walter Smith (until 1869, Head of Leeds School of Art) as the one principally responsible for the development of industrial art education in the USA through his work at the Normal School in Boston. Smith's writings were translated into Portuguese by the liberal politician, Rui Barbosa and influenced education policy.