Domingos Rebelo was born in Ponta Delgada on December 3, 1891, on Sao Miguel island. The son of José Eduardo Rebelo, a fiscal guard, and Georgina Augusta Pereira Rebelo. The family came from a modest family with limited possessions and four children. The Rebelo family attached great importance to family life and religious activity, which would be remarkable both in the painter’s life and work. The Rebelo family valued their children’s education, and Domingos Rebelo had the opportunity to make an education course accessible to only a few. He attended the Fischer Institute, where he received a vital Catholic component, which reinforced religious family beliefs. The many school teachers recognized his passion for drawing and painting, where he joined the Velho Cabral School of Arts and Crafts.
The painter Artur Jaime Viçoso May, who was the school director, recognized the artistic talent of the young student and encouraged the production of his first works. Thanks to this support, Domingos Rebelo, at only 13 years old for the first time, exhibited one of his works. His first exposure began by placing a painting of his in the shop window of Duarte Pereira Cardoso, located at Nova da Matriz street, present street António José de Almeida, in the center of Ponta Delgada. This gained a great deal of exposure since this was the main square on the island. The exposed work and support of Viçoso May brought the talent of Domingos Rebelo to the attention of the Counts of Albuquerque, who were impressed by the quality of his art and offered to pay for his artistic studies. Like many European nobles at the time, they were interested in developing this young artist’s talents to bring more cultural awareness to the region. It was with the support of Duarte de Andrade Albuquerque de Bettencourt, 1st Count of Albuquerque, and his teacher Vicoso May, that conditions were created for Domingos Rebelo to continue his studies in Paris. He was 15 years old when he left Ponta Delgada on his way to the great European metropolis, where he began the next chapter of his artistic development. He remained in Paris for six years studying the various techniques from some of the best in Europe at the time. He returned to Sao Miguel in 1913, where he remained for over 30 years. It was here that he married twice, the first passing away young with no children. He then remarried and had five children and continued painting while exposing his work at various Lisbon exhibits and abroad. The artist was commissioned continuously by the local elite to have their portraits painted, and was custom to have him paint your children’s self-portraits. He began becoming a tutor for the wealthy ladies of the island of Sao Miguel, who, at that time, had a great passion for art and recapturing the beauty of their islands. In 1942, Domingues Rebelo returned to Lisbon, where he remained for the rest of his life, constantly traveling to his native island of Sao Miguel and Brazil, where he was recognized as one of the great painters of his generation. He died in Lisbon in 1975 after a long, fulfilling life, following his dreams and becoming one of Portugal’s top artists of the 20th century. His paintings are collector’s pieces and are hung in various museums and palaces throughout Portugal. On occasion, a painting of his will go up for auction and is usually sold quickly as these are recognized in Portuguese society as a must for the walls of their old manor homes. After he died in 1979, the high school in Ponta Delgada in his hometown was named after him, which is recognized as one of the best high schools in the Azores.