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Exploring the 12 Prophets of Aleijadinho: a 3D visitSoapstone in two blocks, 234 cm (1800-1805). Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, Congonhas, Minas Gerais, Brazil (1757-1805).


Joel is one of the twelve Minor Prophets and the second among them. His name means Yahweh is God. He described catastrophes such as the plague of locusts that would devastate vineyards and orchards. He also announced that God will come to the Last Judgment, when the trumpets of angels will announce the end of times.

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Exploring the 12 Prophets of Aleijadinho: a 3D visit

Exploring the 12 Prophets of Aleijadinho: a 3D visit

Antônio Francisco Lisboa, Aleijadinho (1730/38 – 1814). Prophet Joel. Soapstone in two blocks, 234 cm (1800-1805). Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, Congonhas, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1757-1805. Photo: Percival Tirapelli.

In the churchyard, Joel is on the opposite side of Jonah. His gaze turns to the space outside of that designed by the architecture, proving Aleijadinho’s open composition to expand the scenic area in search of the believer that is outside the prayer room. To understand him, the believer has to walk around to the opposite side of the first field of view, and then read his prophetic words. This walk of the believer towards the prophecy is rewarded by the wide gesture of Nahum, which raises his arm to the sky, the source of light and the presence of luminescence of the Savior to come.

When viewed from the side, it can be seen that Joel’s feet point to positions opposing to that of Hosea. The high boots are retracted on the basis on which the holy sayings are developed. The figure should be understood from the side and rear views, and positioned in the narrow space that separates it from Nahum. Only then Joel is partially seen from the front, with the view hampered by the wall. His feet are shown entering and exiting a certain position in the space emphasize the walk, and the look is carried to the boot details with undulating shoelaces, highlighted from the short tunic. The converging lines of the mantle folds lead to the pen that the prophet holds in his right hand and the left arm, in a straight position, shows the hand holding the writings. A gently sloping line adorned with buttons is opposed to the other, thicker line, close to the V formed by the folds of the mantle and to that farther from the face, which begins under the chin, and the curled, split beard, is extended by the thin nose and the crumpled cloth tape of the cap.

Seen from the side, with the writings before him, the figure is verticalized by the phylactery, and the outstretched hand and arm and, in the chest, smooth shoulder fabric contrasting with the elaborated physiognomy, grooved by the facial muscles with mustaches flowing from the nostrils. His long hair framed a face that looks beyond the horizon.

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Exploring the 12 Prophets of Aleijadinho: a 3D visit

In the hands, the iconography – the scriptures in one hand and a writing pen in the other. Aleijadinho balanced the triangular mantle folds with smooth and rounded parts of the tunic, in a clever play on divergent lines – vertically – and convergent to the writer’s symbol uniting hand, pen and crumpled fabrics, thus creating a noticeable visual weight around a large part of the figure.

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I explain to Judea which evil will bring to earth the caterpillar, the locust, the aphid and rust. Joel. ch. 8.

In Latin: EXPLICO IUDAE/AE QUI TERRAE/ERUCA LOCUSTA/BRUCHUS RU/BIGO SINT PA/RITURA MALI. JOEL. CAP. 1, V 4.

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