Our Lady of Conception and Good Death Church
HIgh Altarpiece; Carved Doors
This church was built in 1735 when 2 different dissedent Brotherhoods decided to join forces—The Brown Brotherhood of Our Lady of Conception (1721) and Our Lady of the Assumption and Good Death (1663). Mestre Valentim carved the high altar and the doors. Although nearly demolished in the early 20th century, the church still stands embedded in the middle of the downtown business district.
Like the Black Brotherhoods (Irmandade dos Homens Negros), the Brown Brotherhoods (Irmandade dos Homens Pardos) generally accepted membership dedicated to their purposes or missions, and did not restrict membership by race, color, gender or even faith. At the time, a word like ’brotherhood‘ was a word like ‘mankind’—intended to include both men and women. There were Black, mixed-race, men, women and people of all faiths, as well as low and high skilled workers among the membership of these organizations which provided social services, professional networks, and even funeral arrangements for their members.
Interview with Nireu Cavalcanti (pt. 5 of 8)
Given this challenging environment, how did Valentim acquire the title of Master?
I believe that he earned this public (unofficial) title when he designed the Capela do Noviciado (Novitiate Chapel) in the Third Order of Carmo Church. With this masterpiece, there was no doubt that he was a Master, a title enhanced when the Viceroy invited him to design the Public Prominade. Valentim earned the title in Rio's society, but never self-attributed the term—perhaps out of humbleness or fear of being prosecuted for illegal exercise of the profession.