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Salvador Travel Guide

Museu da Arte Sacra



This small but splendid museum displays one of Brazil's best collections of Catholic art. The artifacts are shown in an old monastery, a simple, beautiful building that itself counts as an artwork. The galleries enclose a small green cloister in the center of which a tiny fountain gurgles quietly. The collection includes oil paintings, oratorios (a cabinet containing a crucifix), metal work, and lots of wooden statues of saints. In general the cabinetry is better than the carving: the jacaranda-wood oratorios are things of beauty, while the wooden saints seemed to have kept the same look of stunned piety through more than 2 centuries. If you're pressed for time, head for the two rooms of silver at the back. Walk the two rooms and you can see Brazilian silversmiths refining their technique, as the rather crude, but massive, works of the 18th-century changes and develops until by the early 19th century, Brazilian artists were producing reliquaries, processional crosses, and crucifixes of astonishing refinement.



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