116, OUVIDOR STREET

Hi, folks! I have recently written about the presence of egyptian ornamentation in Rio. One of the buildings pictured there was 116 Ouvidor Street, “corner of Ourives”, as it was then known, and meaning nowadays nothing but “corner of Miguel Couto”, since part of what is left of the Ourives Street after the opening of the Central Avenue receives today the name of the famous brazilian physician.[1]

The present building – with a façade plenty of decorative information – has always intrigued me a lot, especially because there is still too little bibliographical information about it. It is not listed, for instance, in the Guia da Arquitetura Eclética no Rio de Janeiro (Guide to the Eclectic Architecture in Rio de Janeiro), edited by the City Hall, nor in the recent Guia da Arquitetura do Rio de Janeiro (Guide to the Architecture of Rio de Janeiro), by Editora Bazar do Tempo.

This post, therefore, is not going to be short or easy, for there is so much to explain about the building and its uses since it was erected, probably in the end of the nineteenth century.

To corroborate the date above, I transcribe here the note published by journalist Ancelmo Gois in his daily O Globo column: “A nice building, at 116 Ouvidor Street, is back to Rio landscape after being closed for five years. Built in the nineteenth century, it is one of the few remainders of the period previous to the great urban reform conducted by the mayor Pereira Passos, which changed the aspect of Rio´s central region for good, mainly after the opening of the Rio Branco Avenue.[2] [3] [4]

The only concrete information that I found about the building at the Rio de Janeiro Main Archive (Arquivo Geral da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro) is contained in a process initiated in 1912, when a famous jewelry house – the Luiz de Rezende Jewelry – was established at the address. Rezende, who was born in Portugal in 1839 and who had arrived in Rio at the age of 13, made with the diamond business one of Brazilian major fortunes of his time.

In the process, Luiz de Rezende “asks the license to, according to the inserted plans, modify the façade of the building number 116 of Moreira Cezar Street.[5] On January 4th, 1913, though, the process was filed because “they did nothing”, as it was informed only two days before by the employee H. Goes.

Now we need to back a bit in time, in order to properly explain this story…

According to the report of the Comissão Construtora da Avenida Central (Central Avenue´s Construction Committee), published in ‘O Album da Avenida Central”, reissued by João Fortes Engenharia, at page 209, the owner of numbers 66 and 67 of Ourives Street was Luiz de Rezende, who had received in exchange a ground in the brand new Central Avenue. These numbers 66 and 67 Ourives Street are visible in the new avenue´s plan-project, contained in the very same publication, as we can observe below.

It is somewhat strange that, based on the picture above, the number 67 of Ourives Street makes corner with Ouvidor Street, and this building, always according to the same picture, wasn´t included in the relation of realties to be torn down in order to give way to the new avenue. Well, this building, in my opinion, is the very same building here studied – 116 Ouvidor Street! A change of number and street could have happened at any moment after the construction of the new avenue, from 67 Ourives to 116 Ouvidor? It is up to you to decide – in other words, help!

A little break in this soapbox opera. In the ground received in exchange, in Central Avenue, Rezende built, at numbers 106 and 108, a beautiful four storied eclectic building, designed by architect Alfredo Bandeira, constructed by Paulo Schroeder and seen in the image below, by Marc Ferrez.[6] [7]

But let´s get back to our building, for this is getting already too complicated. And let us also forget, for a while, all this tedious address matter…

According to a precious information given by friend Sergio Coelho, a Luiz de Rezende´s relative, the plan of the building façade´s reform, by French architect Charles Adda (1873-1938), dates from 1911, and the locksmith and sculpture works were executed by Clément Desvernine, also a French artist. Still according to Coelho, being the owner an effective active member of Rosicrucianism, he had ordered to adorn the store with symbols of Egyptian life and mythology.

In the wrought iron baluster we can see various materializations attributed to the Egyptian solar deity Ra: the body of a scarab beetle, the wings of a falcon and the serpent. On the balcony there are two cast iron sculptures of two other Egyptian mythology deities, a male and a female.

Between the third and the fourth floors the building has a stripe of reliefs that goes through all of the façade´s extension. These ornaments keep poor or no relationship with the Egyptian motifs described above, although very commonly employed in the period, a heritage from the Renaissance French palaces. They are helms, swords, arrows, spears, a sheep headed battering ram, a torch and a fasces, all framed with festoons (below).

The crowning was ended by a roof lantern, now lost, on which four winged sphinxes rested as caryatids, as shown in the image below, published in 1922 in the magazine O Malho.

A final new: in 1898, the jewelry was stage for Brazil´s first spectacular robbery, never solutioned and popularly known as “the Rezende´s Hole” (O Buraco do Rezende) – an event that is worth the reading.

See you!


[1] According to Cruvello Cavalcanti in his “Nova Numeração dos Prédios da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro” (New Numbering of Rio de Janeiro Buildings”), from 1878, the former number 118 of Ouvidor Street became the new 116. It was a “sobrado” and it was listed under the name of Adelaide Pires de Oliveira and other.

[2] The Central Avenue had its name changed in 1912, after the death of Barão do Rio Branco.

[3] The journalist has probably taken the information from Brazil Gerson´s book “História das Ruas do Rio” (History of the Streets of Rio de Janeiro), where the author informs that the owner, Antonio Ribeiro Chaves, had a store called “Ao Rei dos Mágicos” in the number 116.

[4] In the edition 1041 of “O Programa-Avisador” newspaper, from 1887, the store “Ao Rei dos Mágicos” informed its address on 116 Ouvidor Street.

[5] We should remind that, after the Proclamation of the Brazilian Republic, many streets had their names changed. Even the famous Ouvidor Street was “dismissed” by an 1897 decree, paying tribute to a War of Canudos “hero”, the Colonel Moreira Cesar. In 1917 – as informed by the architect and historian Nireu Cavalcanti -, another decree gave back the street its eighteenth century name.

[6] The names of these professionals are listed in the book “O Album da Avenida Central” (The Central Avenue Album), published around 1907 by Brazilian photographer Marc Ferrez (1843-1923). This building lodged the famous Confeitaria Castellões (Castellões Bakery), as observed in a photograph in the same publication.

[7] Currently the ground is occupied by the Martinelli Building, whose address is 108 Rio Branco Avenue.

2 Comentários

  1. bonjour
    A propos de Charles Abba, architecte important en France ; inventaire de sa production
    https://archiwebture.citedelarchitecture.fr/fonds/FRAPN02_ADDCH/inventaire/objet-2311
    mais qui a fondu les statues des égyptions (cast iron ?)
    merci pour cette publication

    Curtir

  2. A propos de Clément Devernine, voir ici
    https://archive.org/stream/coleodasleis48brazgoog/coleodasleis48brazgoog_djvu.txt

    SOCIÉTÉ MINIÈRE ET INDUSTRIELLE FRANCO -BRÉSILIENNE
    ESTRAHIDO DO RKGISTKO DAS DELIBERAÇÕES DO CaNSELUO DE
    ADMINISTRAÇÃO

    Sessão de 28 de janeiro de 1905

    Presentes 08 Srs. J. Áucoc, L. Hochapfcl, Emile Lobstein,
    Prédéric Lobstein, Charles Spitz.

    208 ACTOS DO PODKt KXICCTIVO

    O Sr. Emile Lobstein leva ao conhecimente do conselho que
    elle recobeu dos Srs. Luiz de Rezende e Dr. J. Raymondo
    Pereira da Silva uma procuração para acceitar em seus nomes
    respectivos a transferencia do quatrocentas acções subscriptas
    em sea nome pelo Sr. Clément Desvernines (suite dans le texte)

    Curtir

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