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Rio museum receives neo-realist Portinari works
Rio de Janeiro's Archbishop Orani Tempesta attends the transfer ceremony of Brazilian painter Candido Portinari's works at the National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 13, 2014. The National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) receives 205 of Portinari's art works. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP).- Rio's National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) Monday received 200 paintings and engravings by neo-realist Brazilian painter Candido Portinari, giving the museum the largest public collection of his work.

"We wanted these Portinari works to be on show for the public at large. More than 95 percent of his works are privately-owned", said the artist's son Joao Portinari, during a ceremony to mark the gallery's 77th anniversary.

With June's World Cup set to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to Rio, Minister of Culture Marta Suplicy said this was an opportunity to show that Brazil "is not just football and the beach.

"More than anybody else, Portinari knew how to encapsulate the Brazilian identity," Suplicy said of the artist, who died in 1962.

Brazil's Research and Financing Project agency Finep had enjoyed stewardship of the works in recent years.

But the agency agreed to pass the works to the MNBA for public display in line with a government program encouraging state-owned firms to make their collections available to museums, Suplicy said.

Portinari's son, who founded and directs Brazil's Portinari Project tasked with showcasing the artist, told AFP his father had resisted selling the collection and passed them on to his son to safeguard.

He explained he had had to let some go to private collectors during the 1990s in order for the project to survive.

"Now I am pleased, as the story has a happy ending," he said.

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