Hi! It is true that Rio is not Egypt. Some would say unfortunately, but this is because they don´t live in Egypt… I caught myself the other day thinking about the numerous references in Rio architecture concerning the human civilization that has impressed specialists so much over time – and continues to do it: the Ancient Egypt.
Let us visit, then, some Rio Downtown addresses where we can find these allusions.
This 1910 sobrado, at Rua Pedro Alves, 40 and 42, in Santo Cristo neighbourhood, is among the city´s most inquisitive constructions. According to the excelent Guia da Arquitetura Eclética no Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro Eclectic Architecture Guide), published in 2000 by the City Hall, it is “a rare example of neoegyptian ornamentation naively applied”.
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts)
Also the MNBA (Avenida Rio Branco, 199) carries in its façade, among many others, some decorative references to ancient civilizations, including Egypt. For more, please visit this and this post.
Building alongside Avenida Rio Branco
This rich building at Rua do Ouvidor, 116 housed in the past the famous Ao Rei dos Mágicos House, owned by Antonio Ribeiro Chaves, a 19th century brazilian pionneer in communications. The present façade, altered afterwards, carries nowadays a very eclectic ornamentation, with medieval references, such as elms and helmets, as well as those here studied by us: two cast iron sculptures represent a pharaoh and an egyptian goddess, and the cast iron baluster is decorated with a phalcon and serpent winged scarab, attributes also related to the solar god Ra.
Finally, two metal bas-reliefs right above our heads ornate PETROS façade, at Rua do Ouvidor, 98. Although not particularly beautiful, they were executed by the important brazilian sculptor Bruno Giorgi (1905-1993). In one of them – seen here – we can notice the profiles of a sphinx and a pyramid, again inspired by the egyptian city of Giza.
See you in the next post!