One of the largest churches in the city of Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco de Paula was constructed between 1759 to 1801. Mestre Valentim's decorative work was carved between 1801 and his death in 1813. The church is open daily for visitation — however, as of this writing, the Chapel of Our Lady of Victories is closed for restoration. The restoration project is slated for completion in 2022 at a total cost of R$35 million.
In addition to Valentim's work, the Chapel restoration project includes several paintings by Manoel da Cunha e Silva, another of the most important artists of the 18th century. Cunha e Silva was born enslaved and used his paintings to raise the money to buy his freedom, whereupon he married a "free mulatta" to ensure that his children would not be enslaved.
Interview with Nireu Cavalcanti (pt. 6 of 8)
What is the significance of the Public Prominade in the urbanization of the city?
The Public Prominade was the first urbanization project in Rio de Janeiro that was soley aesthetic. This revolutionized the city as, for the first time, it gained a leisure space, an ornamental garden, a botanical garden, and a place to exhibit artwork and sculpture. Before that, all of the public parks were in some way utilitarian. For the first time, a public project was conceived around exploiting the beauty of Guanabara Bay and creating a symbolic and aesthetic space away from the city center. Before that, festivals and processions of the Brotherhoods took place in Campo de Santana—now Praça da República (Republic Plaza). After the creation of the Public Prominade, these events shifted to this new space, transforming the political and cultural heart of Rio.