The Corcovado mountain before the Christ Redeemer

Instituto Moreira Salles

Marc Ferrez. Silvestre bridge on the railway to the Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, RJ. c.1890 

The photographs of the Instituto Moreira Salles collection, being part of this selection range from the 1860s to the 1920s. They cover aspects of the landscape surroundings of Rio and the spectacular view on the Corcovado Mountain, where starting 1931 the statue of the Cristo Redentor has been established to oversee the city and its inhabitants.

Even before the invention of photography, the Corcovado mountain was already a clearly recognized geographical landmark in the city's landscape. Considering the chain of mountains that surrounds the city from one side and, on the other, the waterfront that extends from the inner Guanabara Bay area to the open sea of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches, Rio de Janeiro is, due to these geographical characteristics, a unique urban setting. The Corcovado mountain has thus long served as a privileged point of observation of the city and its natural surroundings.

Better known by the general public for his landscapes, Marc Ferrez was a plural artist. In 1875 he joins the Geological and Geographic Empire Comission, when delves into what would become one of its many specialties: the photographic documentation of the then-new engineering works, such as railways and water supply systems. In 1882 Ferrez starts to document the construction of the Corcovado Railroad.

Augusto Malta (1864 - 1957), born in the brazilian state of Alagoas, was the main photographer of urban development in Rio in the early decades of the twentieth century, a period of rapid modernization. In 1903 Malta is hired as "Official Photographer of the General Directorate of Works and Traffic of the Federal District City Hall", a position created especially for him by Mayor Pereira Passos (1902-1906), responsible for radical changes in the city. Malta was kept at the function for more than 30 years, covering from big events -such as the inauguration of the statue of Cristo Redentor- to aspects of everyday life. In 1905 he was also hired by The Rio de Janeiro Tramway, Light and Power Company Limited - that would be popularly known as Light. Since then Malta has produced an impressive array of company's activities on modernizing the city- especially in public transport, with the introduction of electric trams, and street lighting.

Main brazilian photographer of the nineteenth century, Marc Ferrez (1843-1923) is the most significant photographer of the period at the Instituto Moreira Salles collection. The landscapes which he photographed, particularly panoramic photos of the city of Rio de Janeiro area, bring in their aesthetic and thematic choices some of the main elements of the iconographic imagery of the city that has been consolidated since then, especially abroad. These photographs were produced with special cameras in large format negatives, practice to which he devoted all his technical inventiveness.

Unlike other photography studios at the time, Ferrez’s inkling for natural landscapes and urban vistas, visible since the beginning of his career, formed his most powerful body of work, composing unique images which would permanently mark 19th century brazilian iconography. Ferrez explored the city’s outer limits, both in the mountains and by the bay, constructing a personal and poetic vision of the urban space with his photos of locales that border the natural and the man-made, magical areas that continue to characterize the great metropolis which Rio de Janeiro transformed into throughout the 20th century.

Credits: Story

Joanna Balabram
Rachel Rezende
Sergio Burgi

Instituto Moreira Salles


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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