Cândido Portinari (December 29, 1903 – February 6, 1962) was one of the most important Brazilian painters and also a prominent and influential practitioner of the neo-realism style in painting. Born to Giovan Battista Portinari and Domenica Torquato, Italian immigrants from Veneto, in a coffee plantation near Brodowski, in São Paulo, Portinari studied at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (ENBA) in Rio de Janeiro. In 1928 he won a gold medal at the ENBA and a trip to Paris where he stayed until 1930, when he returned to Brazil. He joined the Brazilian Communist Party and stood for senator in 1947 but had to flee Brazil for Uruguay due to the persecution of Communists during the government of Eurico Gaspar Dutra (1946 to 1951). He returned to Brazil in 1951 but suffered ill health during the last decade of his life and died in Rio de Janeiro in 1962 of lead poisoning from his paints. His career coincided with and included collaboration with Oscar Niemeyer amongst others. Portinari’s works can be found in galleries and settings in Brazil and abroad, ranging from the family chapel in his childhood home in Brodowski to his panels Guerra e Paz (War and Peace) in the United Nations building in New York and four murals in the Hispanic Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The range and sweep of his output is quite remarkable. It includes images of childhood, paintings depicting rural and urban labour, refugees fleeing the hardships of Brazil’s rural north-east, treatments of the key events in the history of Brazil since the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, portraits of members of his family and leading Brazilian intellectuals, illustrations for books, tiles decorating the Church of São Francisco at Pampulha, Belo Horizonte. There were a number of commemorative events in the centenary of his birth in 2003, including an exhibition of his work in London. On December 20, 2007, his painting was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art along with Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Suzanne Bloch. The paintings remained missing until January 8, 2008, when they were recovered in Ferraz de Vasconcelos by the Police of São Paulo. The paintings were returned, undamaged, to the São Paulo Museum of Art.