Who was Aleijadinho?
Born in Vila Rica, whose name was later changed to Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1738 he was the son of Manuel Francisco da Costa Lisboa, a Portuguese man and his African slave, Isabel. His father, a carpenter, had immigrated to Brazil where his skills were so in demand that he appears to have been elevated to the position of architect. When Antonio was young his father married and he was raised in his father's home along with his half siblings. It was there he is presumed to have learned the fundamentals of sculpture, architecture and the combination of the two. Antonio first appears as a day laborer working on the Church of Our Lady of Carmel in the town of Ouro Preto, a church designed by his father.
Within a very short time he had become a noted architect himself and had designed and constructed the Chapel of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto. He had also executed the carvings on the building, the most notable being a round bas-relief depicting St. Francis receiving the stigmata.