Game of Checkers
Checkers Artist Joao Abel Manta
João Abel Manta, from 1888 to 1982,
near Gouveia, Portugal.
Artist Self Portraits
- As a young man, artist Joao Manta was motivated to move
to Lisbon in 1904 to study art at the school
of Fine Art by the support he received
from the Countess of Vinhó and Almedina,
who was a painter.
- In 1916, Joao Manta completed his art studies
and three years later he traveled to Paris,
where he became involved in various ateliers
and salons and also discovered the work
of the Impressionists.
- His own artwork was greatly influenced
by this style, specifically the work of
- Joao Manta possessed a natural propensity
for analyzing objects and their inherent
structure and true beauty.
- Joao Manta's subjects consisted primarily of
still life compositions and portraiture
and in his choice as well as depiction,
he remained faithful to the imagery of
- As a result of his realism and natural representation within
his work, Manta became known as one of the best portraitists of his time.
- Artist Joao Manta soon became renowned for his unique ability to integrate
the psychological expression of his sitters within a coherent plastic
and pictorial system of forms and this element could be seen in the
painting, Jogo de Damas (Game of Checkers) from 1927.
- The composition reveals his preference
for nearly photographic situations and
the diligent observation of attitude of
the checkers players towards to the game
and towards one another.
- The checkers player in this portrait
was his wife, painter Clementina Carneiro
de Moura and Abel painted her in a pensive
mood in front of the checkerboard, detached
from her checkers opponent facing her in
this battle of wits.
- Both figures were represented by Manta
from a slightly elevated perspective that
depicted a stillness surrounding the checkers
game but also placed the observer within
the pervasive tension that preceded the
next checker move.
- Within the composition of the checkers
game, checkers artist Joao Manta placed the bottom half of the
scene in dark shadows but then in stark
contrast to the foreground brightly highlighted
the light yellow table top in the middle
ground, drawing the viewer’s focus
to the checkerboard as well as the pose
and facial expression of Clementina.
- The dark shadows also created an emotional
tension that was offset by the pastel blue
of the wall in the background, insinuating
that a peace would soon follow the game of checkers.
- The checker motif was repeated in the
subtle red and yellow pattern in the floor.
- The Checkers Game painting revived the
constructive and plastic values of Cézanne,
as well as clearly defining Manta's
taste for naturalist configuration and
sensuality found in the expressive force
of the subdued color patterns; Joao Manta paid
a lot of attention towards the realism
of the situation, in trying to express
to what is seen”; this stylistic
trend may have been inherited from one
of his mentors, artist Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro.
- Joao Abel Manta certainly evoked Pinheiro’s flair
within the mood of his interior motifs, decisive attitudes
of the figures and his selection of subtle moments.
- Manta returned to Portugal in 1926 and
although he remained an artist, Joao Manta dedicated
himself to teaching technical drawing
at the School of Decorative Arts António
- From 1933, Joao Abel Manta participated in exhibitions
at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes
and the salons of the SPN/SNI, which awarded
him the “Silva
Porto” Prize in 1942.
- Visits to Lisbon brought forth the naturalist
in him, as he both felt and understood
the city’s inherent structure and
pervasive atmosphere and through his themes
and artistic points of view, Manta created
accurate images of the city.
- Artist Joao Manta's genre views depicted clearly
an Impressionist inspiration and presented
the daily bustle of urban life, wherein
small silhouettes of human figures
merely punctuated space to supply the composition
with a sense of scale.
- Aside from his love of painting and a fondness for observation, Manta also
enjoyed literary clubs, especially the ones held at A Brasileira Café,
which became a meeting place for artistic minds that provided an academic
environment that allowed the discussion on the current art scene.
- Joao Abel Manta exhibited his images in public viewing's at:
- The Portuguese pavilion at the Seville Exhibition in 1929.
- The Colonial Exhibition of Paris in 1931.
- The Exhibition of Arts and Techniques
of Modern Life in 1937.
- He also created the stained glass windows of the Instituto Nacional
de Estatística in 1933, as well as the stained glass models for
the lateral nave of the Jerónimos Church in 1935.
- In 1957, the Portuguese artist Joao Manta was
awarded the First Prize of the
Calouste Gulbenkian Painting Award”.
- Despite advancing years, Joao Abel
Manta continued express his ideas in
ways that were important to him; he
was not concerned about whether the
popular trend was avant-garde or academism
but remained true to himself and his
- He exhibited his work with artist Dórdio
Gomes in 1965, and like the art of
Gomes, some saw Manta’s creations
as “traditionalist” and
others viewed them as “modern”;
however, these opinions meant little
to Manta, who continued to develop
his particular artistic renderings
regardless of contemporary opinion.
- To the end of his days, artist Joao Abel Manta
was sincere to himself above all and
his course as an artist was developed
without a set aesthetic commitment.
Checker Artist Joao "Players"