The Master of Apipucos, 1959

Originally conceived as an installment in a two-panel portrait of prominent Brazilian intellectuals (and family friends), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s The Master of Apipucos captures a day in the life of author and sociologist, Gilberto Freire whose highly influential book, The Masters and the Slaves examined the unique essence of Brazilian identity through the framework of an instilled racial assimilation and cultural cross-pollination (a theory that would subsequently be known as Brazil’s “racial democracy”). Chronicling Freire’s idyllic, ordered, and decidedly indulgent life in his secluded, hillside country estate in the town of Apipucos where he tends to his well maintained garden, while away the hours at his well-appointed personal library (one that, not surprisingly, proudly showcases his published works), distractedly eats a light breakfast that has been served upon his wife’s command by a house servant, sits in his comfortable leather armchair drinking his favorite liqueur, and savors the cook’s aromatic meal preparations in the kitchen, de Andrade insightfully illustrates the insular, privileged, and almost anachronistic environment that surrounds Freire, and in the process, provides a possible glimpse into the creative stimulus that inspired the author’s idea of colonial-era plantations as a contemporary social paradigm for racial integration and indigenous identity.

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