21/02/2013 | TNH1 - 20 January 2013 | Brazilian popular art remembers the 50 years of the death of Master Vitalino, from Caruaru

Brazilian popular art remembers the 50 years of the death of Master Vitalino, from Caruaru. 11:01 – 20/01/2003, from the Editorial Team. “The master of popular ceramics died in extreme poverty”. One of the headlines of the Jornal do Commercio of 22 January 1963 showed in bold and capital letters the death of the greatest icon of popular representativity of the Brazilian Northeast. Two days later, Master Vitalino died in Caruaru, in the agreste region of Pernambuco, poor while also having gained fame throughout the world for his earthenware pieces. Vitalino Pereira dos Santos, born in Caruaru in 1909, died in the early hours of a Sunday, in his wattle and daub hut, in the district of Alto da Moura, a house which is now home to the Master Vitalino House Museum. He had smallpox and was in bed for ten days. The news article run by the Jornal do Commercio on page 3 gave details of the artisan’s death. “My father died on the saint day of St Sebastian, who was his saint. He died at 10 a.m. on the Sunday and was buried at 3 p.m. This was a very quick day. Thanks to the Mayor of Caruaru at that time, João Lyra Filho, he was buried in the city cemetery. Otherwise he would have been buried in a potter’s field, which was the fate that normally befell people with smallpox”, remembers Severino Vitalino, the son of the master, who now is in charge of the House Museum and also keeps the tradition of production of earthenware pieces. Vitalino’s last works were finished on 8 January 1963: four oxen, on show in New York and on sale for 15 dollars each. The article about the death of the artisan showed that Vitalino’s family says they asked for help to aid his father, but no authorities wanted to help, as they were afraid of catching the disease. City councillor Aristides Veras told the reporting team, at the time, that he only found out about the master’s situation on the Saturday, the day before he died, through ceramist and Vitalino’s neighbour, José Caboclo. After 50 years, Severino denies this, and says that his father was never abandoned. “The Mayor helped and talked to the family”, he says. Married to Joana Maria da Conceição, Vitalino Pereira had five children who now continue the family tradition of producing earthenware figures, reproducing the culture, the behaviour and the tradition of the people of the Brazilian Northeast. In the family, currently there are over 50 people involved with handicrafts. In the hamlet of Alto do Moura, where Vitalino had an influence on many artists, there are over 500 artisans who produce pieces inspired by those of the master. “My father was a humble man. If now his name represents riches, at that time he was poor when he died. However, he was also the richest man, in my opinion, because he was one of the people responsible for making the city of Caruaru grow and be recognised”. Source: Jornal do Commercio (JC). Source:

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