Amos belonged to a humble family of shepherds. He lived around 760 BC and was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Hosea. He is one of the twelve Major Prophets and his preaching with direct and simple words denounced the excessive wealth of the rich and the misery of the poor. He also preached against his own people that, lost in luxury, forgot that they were the chosen people and therefore deserved punishment as much as the pagan nations.
Amos is first seen from behind and then from the side because he is at the beginning of the arch that closes the churchyard on the left, just before Obadiah. The invitation to admire him starts at the mantle’s hemline and phylactery arranged in such a way as to indicate that the prophet begins his walk through the Judean Desert. If at the bottom the mantle has not yet stepped in the stand, just above it takes the form of an S beside the curve of the phylactery; in thick diagonal lines the folds go up towards his right shoulder, while a void opens up between the left arm and the folds of the mantle.
The side view is dominated by the writings of the prophecies, by the rushed walk, expressed in the space that stands out from wool-lined garments. The draping of the fabric on Amos’s left arm leads the eye upwards to his profile, which protrudes forward. Viewed from the front, his legs are covered by a pants made of smoother fabrics contrasting with the rolls made of skin that come out of the mantle lining. The fold lines forming an X converge to the hand that is ready to make a gesture. Above, on the collar that forms a small inverted V, begins the ascent of the long hairlines in front of the raised cap, to flatten the back of the hair. With this effect of pulling back the figure, the face is projected forward, slightly tilted, because it should be seen in its entirety, from the bottom up.
Seen from below, being significantly high, the prophet Amos becomes a secondary character due to Obadiah’s arm movement. He quietly contemplates with compassion, from above, those who did not comply with the will of God. From the top of his mission, Amos preached against kings and those “fat cows” – the rich that plunder the poor.
From an iconological point of view (referring to the artist’s intention to transmit a message beyond the obvious one), although we cannot state without further study, Aleijadinho could also have had his own intention to, with his art, preach against the society eager for gold, wealth and luxury.
In Latin: PRIMO EQUIDEM/PASTOR FACTUS/DEINDE PROPHETA,/IN VACCAS PIN/GUES INVEHOR/ET PROCERES./AMOS/CAP.1.
BAZIN, Germain. Aleijadinho e a escultura barroca no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 1970.
NAVARRO, José Gabriel. Contribuiciones a la historia del arte em el Ecuador. La Compañia. Quito : Ediciones Trama, 2006. v.4.
OLIVEIRA, Myriam Andrade Ribeiro de. O Aleijadinho e o santuário de Congonhas. Roteiros do Patrimônio. Brasília : Monumenta/Iphan, 2006.
SORAIA, Maria Silva. Profetas em movimento. São Paulo : Edusp/Imprensa Oficial, 2001.
TEIXEIRA, José de Monterroso. Aleijadinho, o teatro da fé. São Paulo : Metalivros, 2007.