Jean Baptiste Debret - Traditions of the Brazilian court and the elites.

Museu Imperial

The work "Voyage Pittoresque et historique au Brésil" by Jean Baptiste Debret is a singular work produced in three volumes that contemplate part of the johannine period until the end of the first reign. In this show, we highlight the customs that accompanied the court and elites in Brazil, with illustrations that make up the third volume of the work.

The lithographs of the author illustrate significant moments in the history of Brazil, such as acclamations, coronations, religious celebrations or not, which are extremely important for the knowledge of the nineteenth century, because they were created when the events portrayed were in progress. The description of the facts, through the illustrations created by Debret, proved to be the source for the interpretation of Brazil in a period that is devoid of visual sources, becoming a necessary author for the understanding of the period treated.

From Regent to King: the ascension to the throne of King João VI
When the Queen D. Maria I died (1816), the prince regent D. João became the absolute sovereign of the tropical and overseas lands, but not as a new monarch. The ratification of the Portuguese regency and the recognition of the European countries would come later; so the acclamation of the new monarch occurred only in 1818. However, before the royal formalities, the Prince Regent tried to find a wife for his son D. Pedro to add political power to Portugal.  It has happened through by the union of Dom Pedro and Princess Leopoldina of Austria  

Tributes for the arrival of the Royal Princess D. Leopoldina

São Bento Monastery adorned with silk tapestries in honor of the arrival of the princess...

… D. Leopoldina disembarking from the ship with D. Pedro. Behind them, D. Carlota with her chamberlain. Next, D. João is being helped by two men.

Acclamation of D. João VI, King of Portugal, on February 6, 1818. It was the first coronation of a monarch in Americas. The moment shows when the D.João says he accepts to be the king.

The Royal Family is in the front row to the right of the throne. The Queen D. Carlota is closer to the throne, with Princess Leopoldina at her side. In the second row are the bridesmaids.

After the ceremony the King appears in the balcony to receive the first tributes.

The throne appears in the first window on the left. The Royal Family, the ladies of the court and the foreign delegations are in the gallery...

… In the third window, to the left, it is possible to identify a door that connects to the Royal Chapel. It is possible to see the entrance, where several people are watching the ceremony…

At the balcony, the King emerges and receives tributes from the crowd.

Allegory presented in the theater on May 13, 1818, in solemn commemoration of the rise of the new king and the marriage of his son, D. Pedro, with the Archduchess of Austria, D. Leopoldina. This representation shows an apotheosis in which the monarch ascends among the gods.

Venus arrives in her shell pulled by two swans led by Cupid symbolizing the marriage and union of the two newly-allied nations, Portugal and Austria. …

... Neptune approaches with the pavilion of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

D. João wearing the royal uniform and using the crown that appears supported by the three nations that composed the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

Below, two kneeling Greek gods, Hymen and Love, with portraits of the Prince and the Royal Princess.

Culture and traditions: the court and the elite in the social environment 
The historical events that occurred in Brazil were not the only ones portrayed in Debret's lithographs. The artist sought to insert the characteristics of society, culture and traditions into religious practices and old customs.

The baptism of the Princess D. Maria da Glória - Rio de Janeiro, 1819.

The Queen D. Carlota and her chamberlain, Marquis de Lavradio, appear on the left preceded by Prince D. Miguel, Prince D. Pedro and Princess Leopoldina. D. João VI escorted by two ministers appears at the front.

In front of the King, the newborn Princess D. Maria da Glória was being carried by her Chaplain, Marquis da Cunha, D. Francisco da Costa Souza Macedo. The child was cover with a transparent veil of gold brocades.

Shaking a handkerchief was a Portuguese tradition that also happened in celebrations in Brazil.

Another Portuguese tradition was also portrayed by the author. The crown of the king on a cushion, respected the "Sebastianist" custom, initiated after the disappearance of D. Sebastião - King of Portugal from 1557 to 1578.

The image shows the uniforms of the ministers. Below, the old European monarchist tradition: "beija mão".

The image shows the official clothes of the elites.

Two scythes at the entrance to the court were indications of a criminal trial.

Representation of St. George in front of the "Body of God" procession, traditionally known as "Corpus Christi".

Interior of the Church of Our Lady Mother of Men - Holy Wednesday, Rio de Janeiro.

Riding horses tournament, a European tradition, known as "Cavalhadas".

Change of life
Changes that occurred in Portugal due to Liberal Revolution (Porto-1820), created implications that brought consequences to the kingdom in Brazil, among them, the return of the King to Portugal.

The King of Portugal, d. João VI, appears in public for the last time before his return to Portugal.

People from Rio de Janeiro saying goodbye to the Portuguese Royal Family.

At her departure Queen Carlota waves to the audience.

The consequences of Liberal Revolution radically altered the Brazilian political framework. A new administration had to be established …

… decided by the coronation of the first Emperor of Brazil, D. Pedro.

D. Leopoldina and her daughter D. Maria da Glória, were in front of the throne where the first Emperor was crowned.

The scepter and crown used by the Emperor on the occasion of his coronation.

Credits: Story

Exposition made possible through the Law of Incentive to Culture, Rouanet Law. In its 5th phase, the Imperial Museum Collection (Dami) Scanning Project was sponsored by the company GE Celma and developed with the support of the Society of Friends of the Imperial Museum.

President: Michel Temer

Minister of Culture: Sérgio Sá Leitão

President of the Brazilian Institute of Museums: Marcelo Mattos Araujo

Director of the Imperial Museum: Maurício Vicente Ferreira Júnior

Administrative Coordinator: Isabela Neves de Souza Carreiro

Technical Coordinator: Fernando Ferreira Barbosa

Library: Claudia Costa e Marcio Miquelino

Trainees: Lucas Priori e Leonardo Ramos

Dami Project Team:

General coordinator: Muna Raquel Durans

Production coordinator: Guilherme da Silva Aguiar

Photographic Technicians: George Milek, Luis Azevedo

Technicians in historical collection: Neibe Costa, Tulio Magalhães Rodrigues e Vera Bulgarelli

Image editing: Ana Paula Piermatei, Carla Magno e Robson Gomes

Conservation: Cristina de Castro

Administrative assistant: Antônio José M. Pereira


Curatorship and texts: Tulio Magalhães Rodrigues

Suport : Claudia Costa e Marcio Miquelino

Virtual assembly: Tulio Magalhães Rodrigues e Muna Raquel Durans

Photography and Picture Editing: George Milek

Proofreading: Rosana Carvalho

English version: Vera Bulgarelli

Consulted works:

The texts that compose this exhibition were based and worked with the help of the third volume, original edition of 1839, of the work "Voyage Pittoresque et historique au Brésil", by Jean Baptiste Debret, in addition to a translated version of the same work, by Livraria Martins Editora. The work "Debret and Brazil: complete work" was also used to support the texts, by authors Júlio Bandeira and Pedro Corrêa Lago.

Sponsorship: Ge Celma

Suport: Sociedade dos Amigos do Museu Imperial

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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