According to ethnicityology, in Brazil, artistic development began with the arrival of the Jesuits in 1549, with the construction of monasteries and churches made of wood and clay. It was not until the 17th century that the first stone buildings were built under the supervision of Jesuit and Franciscan architects. The European style elements of the Baroque and Rococo, especially Portuguese and Italian, were adopted almost unchanged (e.g. Belém Cathedral, 1748–71). The artistic centers were on the coast (Bahia, today Salvador; Recife; Olinda; Rio de Janeiro). Following the example of the churches of São Roque (1555) and São Vicente de Fora (1590–1627) influenced by Italian architecture in Lisbon, single-nave churches were built, mostly without a crossing. V. a. the side chapels of the presbytery. The nave and the chancel were closed with barrel vaults (mostly made of wood, often with artistic coffering). The church facades of the 17th century were relatively unadorned, often flanked by two square towers (Olinda, Recife, Salvador). Gable, door and window frames were carefully worked out. Components (especially jewelry forms, also azulejos) were often manufactured in the mother country. Excellent examples of the use of azulejos are the cloister of the São Francisco monastery in Salvador (1st half of the 18th century) and the interior of the Nossa Senhora da Glória church (1771) in Rio de Janeiro. In the 18th century, the baroque exuberance is particularly evident in the church rooms, richly decorated with gilded carvings (São Francisco in Salvador, 1708–48; São Bento in Rio de Janeiro, founded in 1590, redesigned several times, including 1693-1720; Capela Dourada in the Church of the Third Franciscan Order of São Francisco in Recife, 1697). An independent variant of the colonial baroque emerged in the 18th century when gold was used among other things. Mineral resources are sufficient Minas Gerais: the »Minas Baroque«, which gives the impression of lightness and elegance, with elliptical floor plans, curved facades, cylindrical towers, gables and portals with three-dimensional ornaments made of soapstone. The most important artist of this time was the architect and sculptor Aleijadinho , who worked in Minas Gerais. the Church of São Francisco de Assis (1766–94) in Ouro Prêto was also completed. For the church Bom Jesus de Matozinhos (1758 to 1770) in Congonhas he created the twelve life-size stone sculptures of the biblical prophets (1800–05) on the terraced staircase to the church portal as well as the 66 cedar figures (1797–99) of the six stations of the cross below the church.
In addition to pulpits and choir stalls, colored, naturalistically designed sculptures are among the masterpieces of Brazilian carving art of the 17th and 18th centuries, which dominated sculptural production until the 19th century. Outstanding are the terracotta figures by Frei Agostinho da Piedade (* 1580, † 1661) in the monasteries of São Bento in Salvador, Paraíba and São Paulo. These works were further distributed by his student Frei Agostinho de Jesus (* 1600 or 1610, † 1661).
Founded in the 17th century by European religious, painting in Brazil found its climax in the wall and ceiling paintings of the 18th century, among others. in Rio de Janeiro in the main altar of the Church of the Third Order of the Franciscans São Francisco da Penitência (1732) by Caetano da Costa Coelho (active in the 1st half of the 17th century), in Salvador in the churches of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia (1774), Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos (1780) and in the Church of the Third Order of the Dominicans São Domingo (1781) by José Joaquim da Rocha (* 1737, † 1807), as well as in Ouro Prêto in the Church of the Third Order of the Franciscan São Francisco de Assis (1801-12) by Manoel da Costa Athayde (* 1762, † 1830).
The move of the Portuguese court to Rio de Janeiro in 1808 as a result of the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal brought under the reign of King John VI. new artistic impulses, whereby the European academy tradition dominated. The »Missão Artística Francesa«, which arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1816 and played a key role in the spread of the classical canon of forms, had the greatest influence.
As a member of the mission, Grandjean de Montigny (* 1772, † 1850) made the final break with the introduction of neoclassicism in his building for the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes (1826) in Rio de Janeiro in the first half of the 19th century the baroque building tradition. At the end of the 19th century, the eclectic architectural style, trained in historicism, predominated (e.g. the “Teatro Amazonas” opera house in Manaus, 1896). It is most striking in the public buildings by Ramos de Azevedo (* 1851, † 1928) in São Paulo.
In the field of painting, there were Jean Baptiste Debret (* 1768, † 1848), whose genre paintings document the culture and rites of the various ethnic groups in Brazil, and Nicolas Antoine Taunay (* 1755, † 1830), the v. a. emerged with landscape and history pictures, to the outstanding artists of the mission. Further representatives of academic painting were Araújo Porto Alegre (* 1806, † 1879), Victor Meirelles (* 1832, † 1903) and Pedro Américo (* 1843, † 1905). Deviations from academic tradition are particularly evident in the turn to plein air painting and regional themes (e.g. in George Grimm, * 1846, † 1887; Almeida Júnior, * 1850, † 1899; João Baptista Castagneto, * 1851, † 1900; Antônio Parreiras, * 1860, † 1937).