Dutch tiles under the Brazilian tropical sun

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Project-icon.png Project
Dutch tiles under the Brazilian tropical sun
Continent South America
Countries Brazil
Sites Recife
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Status Proposed
Contact person H van Nederveen Meerkerk
Website www.mowic.nl
Type of Project Care & Management
Discipline Restoration
Activity Technical assistance
Category Built heritage
Religious Building, Monument

Background Around thousand 17th seventeenth-century, blue-white, Dutch tiles decorate the cloister of the Saint Antony Convent at Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Beautiful old Dutch scenes are put together, with the typical accents in the corners: ox-head, spider, lilies. The exact amount is 923 tiles (one disappeared) and some hundreds of fragments. It forms the largest ultramarine collection of such tiles. The presence of these tiles, beyond all doubt, is a heritage from the period that wealthy Dutch and Sephardic merchants and, not to forget, the culture minded governor himself, Count Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, lived in Mauritsstad-Recife, the capital of the WIC-settlement New-Holland (1630-1654) in the northeast of Brazil. Nowadays, the tiles are in an alarming bad shape. They suffered already from re-collocation in the eighteenth century. In the past centuries, salt, humidity and last but not least, air-pollution of modern transport (Recife counts ca. 2 million inhabitants) has caused severe damage to these tiles.

Course of action What to do? Before it is too late, the tiles need to be restored urgently. Capacity training, access to the specific Dutch tile related conservation materials and know-how, as well as humidity control of the convent's fundaments, are some essential issues to be solved.

Benefits Once realized, this unique example of mutual cultural heritage from Brazil and the Netherlands will be saved from a certain decay. Important economic, cultural and social benefits can be expected: e.g. replicas can been made and sold to the tourists for an attractive price, the capacity training will be the guarantee of an eventual future conservation of the tiles in other historical building in Brazil. It will be a pearl in the many guided tourist programs in the historic city of Recife and the pride of the Recifenses, Pernambucanos, Brazilians and the Dutch.

Project information





Involved organisation(s)
Third Order of Saint Francis - Recife
Institute do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional - Pernambuco
Fundação do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico de Pernambuco
MoWIC Foundation (Monuments of the Dutch West India Company)

Funding organisation(s)

Organisations referring to this project
MoWIC Foundation (Monuments of the Dutch West India Company)
Third Order of Saint Francis - Recife

Involved expert(s)
Hannedea van Nederveen Meerkerk

Experts referring to this project
Hannedea van Nederveen Meerkerk
Ulysses Pernambucano de Mello

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