Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, Salvador, Bahia III (Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Salvador, Bahia III)

Candida Höfer, German, born 1944

Photograph taken in Bahia, Brazil, South America


Chromogenic print

Image (Approximately): 55 inches × 8 feet 9 1/2 inches (139.7 × 268 cm) Sheet (Approximately): 70 7/8 inches × 10 feet 7/8 inches (180 × 307 cm)

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VGBild-Kunst, Bonn

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and with the Leo Model Foundation Curatorial Discretionary Fund, 2006

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Born in Eberswalde, Germany, in 1944 and currently based in Cologne, Candida Höfer was a student of Bernd and Hilla Becher, known for their photographic documentation of industrial sites. Höfer shares with them a meticulous, systematic approach to her subjects, and extreme attention to detail. Her portrayals of public places initially seem straightforward but on closer observation reveal subtleties in light and color. These interiors reflect her acute understanding of her medium and her appreciation of the poetry of architectural spaces. This photograph is part of a recent series taken by Höfer in northeast Brazil and depict the interiors of a Baroque church in the colonial city of Bahia. Brazil was a colony of Portugal from the 1550s to 1822 and the photograph suggests that the opulent designs of these Latin American cathedrals is a physical manifestation of European imperial power, the religious fervor that partly drove it, and the resulting economic exploitation that took place in the Americas during the colonial period.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    This view of a colonial Baroque church interior exemplifies Candida Hofer’s meticulous approach in her photographs of public places. Matching the dizzying, resplendent detail of the building with the formidable technologies of her camera and computer, she has invited the viewer to pause and survey the remarkable space. The wealth of details inevitably leads one to ponder not only the mysteries of faith but also the riches of the church that built this monument. As with many of Hofer’s finest works, we find ourselves immersed in a dazzling pictorial tour de force that makes us face the social complexities of the past and the present. Peter Barbarie, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 418.