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That's Malhoa! The Most Portuguese Oil Painting

José Vital Branco Malhoa (1855-1933) was a Portuguese painter, illustrator, and caricaturist who is best known for his naturalist and realist paintings of everyday life in Portugal.

Born in Caldas da Rainha, Malhoa studied art in Lisbon and later in Paris. He was heavily influenced by the French realist painters, particularly Jules Bastien-Lepage, and incorporated their techniques and themes into his own work.

Malhoa's paintings often depicted scenes of rural life, including fishermen, farmers, and street vendors, and he was known for his ability to capture the light and atmosphere of his surroundings. He also painted portraits and historical scenes, but his most enduring legacy is his portrayal of everyday life.

Today, Malhoa is considered one of the most important Portuguese painters of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and his works can be seen in several museums and galleries throughout Portugal.

"O Fado" was completed in 1910. The painting depicts a fado scene that is best described in the "Fado Malhoa" below.  

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In the painting, Malhoa captures the atmosphere of the fado with great detail, including the dress, musical instrument, and the emotional expressions on the faces of the subject. The use of warm colors, such as orange and brown, adds to the feeling of intimacy and warmth in the room.

"O Fado" is considered one of Malhoa's most powerful works, and it is widely recognized as a masterpiece of Portuguese art. The painting is currently on display at the Museu do Chiado in Lisbon.

Fado Malhoa

Someone, who God already has, consecrated painter
That was so great that it hurts that he belongs to the past
He painted on a canvas, with art and with life
The most beautiful song, from the most beloved of lands.

He went up to a room, which he saw in the gas light
And he made the most Portuguese of oil paintings.
Zé in his Samarra, with his lover by his side
With his fingers he grips, caresses the guitar
And there you can see the Fado.

The idea of listening with your eyes makes us laugh, my friends.
Perhaps, but not for those who have already listened - but in color
There are Alfama voices in that painting
And the banza (guitarra) pours songs of bitterness.

From there I tell you that I heard the voice that arises
A simple man, a common Faia, singing to Severa
That is old school, that is Lisbon,
Bohemia and fadista, that's of an artist
That's Malhoa!

Frederico Val / José Galhardo.


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