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Friday’s Snapshot from Rio de Janeiro

April 5, 2013

We went to the EAV, Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage last week when Rio was enjoying a few days rain.

Being Brits we were not afraid to venture out, and where better than to stroll under a canopy of magnificent trees in a tiny piece of tropical rain forest; or so we thought.  The gardens of the mansion were ‘designed’ in 1840 by John Tyndale and organised geometrically and bordered by 52 hectares of lush rain-forest  species typical of the Atlantic tropical forests.  In front of the main entrance of the mansion is a formal lawn with benches arranged around a fountain.

At the park’s centre is a palatial house which was the home of Antonio Martins Lage in 1920 and remained in the family until 1941 when Henrique, Antonio’s grandson died.   For the following 30 years the Parque Lage was the subject of countless battles between the government and and the private sector until 1975 when the buildings and the grounds became the property of the public and the home of the Escola de Artes Visuais.

There were other invented delights in the gardens such as a grotto, aquarium and lover’s corner.  The slaves laundry however dates back to the colonial times when the land was occupied by  sugar mill built by Sebastiao Fagundes Varella in 1610 who was considered to be one of the first mill owners.  

It was the mansion that offered us shelter when the rain become torrential and less pleasant. The house where the EAV offers a wide range of artistic activities that caters for the beginner to the those more accomplished who wish to deepen their knowledge, was designed in 1924 by the Italian architect  Mario Vodrel.  The main facade has a projecting portico lined with masonry.  The three-storey construction with it 24 rooms laid out around a swimming pool is embellished with marble, tiles and mosaics imported from Italy.  While this must be a beautiful cool retreat from the sun most days, that day is was for me more spectacular in the rain.

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