Brazil 2014

As the summer sizzles and excitement builds for the football World Cup in Brazil, we have chosen some items from our Collections that portray the South American country.

From an ancient postcard depicting a black and white Botafogo beach near Rio de Janeiro, to a beautifully preserved taxidermy grey-winged trumpeter, there are lots of interesting items in this month's collection.

    Butterflies and Other Insects at the Brazils

    This delicate painting, one of a set of 13 watercolours of birds and butterflies from Brazil, is in the collection at Scotney Castle.

    Brazil is home to around 3,500 species of butterflies. Sadly around 50 of those are hunted for their wings and crafted into glass-covered decorated trays which are sold to the tourist market. One of these butterflies is the Great Morpho, well-known for its huge iridescent blue wings.

    Grey-winged trumpeter

    A taxidermy specimen of a grey-winged trumpeter bird from Brazil (Psophia crepitans) is on display at Wallington Hall. They were named because of their distinctive call. Sociable birds, they live in flocks and forage on the forest floor searching for a diet of fallen fruit, insects and small animals.

    They are sometimes kept as pets because of their snake-hunting skills. Easy to hunt because they are weak fliers, trumpeters are also highly sought after for their tasty meat.

    Sand-art bottle

    Sand art is a skill specific to the people of Fortaleza, a town on the north-eastern coast of Brazil. The natural coloured sands from this area are quite astonishing and are found in a range of rainbow colours. The scenes in the bottles are created entirely by hand using long, think sticks. It is an extremely intricate task and each unique bottle takes hours to complete. This one is on display at Greenway.

    Rag doll

    This Brazilian rag doll with a plaster face wears earrings and bangles. She is on show at Penrhyn Castle and originates from Rio de Janiero. A label on the underside of the doll dates it to 1907.

    Feather hand screen

    A hand-screen feather fan is one of a pair from the collection at Tyntesfield. It was made in Rio de Janiero in Brazil and fashioned from white feathers which it is thought came from the Coscoroba swan (Coscoroba coscoroba), native to the southern half of South America. The iridescent beetles and a humming bird complete the rather macabre decoration. Its exact date of manufacture is unknown but is thought to be around 1880-1900 during the period when these fans were highly fashionable amongst Victorian ladies.

    A cocoa tree and roasting hut

    A Cocoa Tree and Roasting Hut by Albert Eckhout (c.1610–66) can be seen at Dyrham Park. It was painted around the middle of the 17th century and shows cocoa pods hanging from a tree and drying in trays around a drying hut.

    Eckhout travelled to Brazil in 1637 with Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen (1604–79), and the governor of the Dutch colony there. He was accompanied by the landscape painter Frans Post (1612–80) and practitioners of natural science and cartography. Together they recorded the character of the landscape, natural history, and population of Brazil. Some of the artist’s paintings of Brazilian subjects were presented to Frederick III of Denmark and are now in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.

    A village in Brazil

    A Village in Brazil was painted by the Dutch artist Frans Post (1612–80). It can be seen at Ham House.

    From 1637 to 1644 Post travelled to Brazil in the retinue of Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen (1604–79), who had been sent by the Dutch West India Company to colonise north-east Brazil. Post was probably the first European to paint landscapes of the New World and uses the conventions of Dutch landscape painting to capture this new and exotic world.


    An old postcard of the Brazilian resort of Botafogo, situated on the outskirts of Rio de Janiero, is part of the Fox Talbot Museum collection.

    Lush tropical palm trees line the shore and the picturesque landscape is dominated by the Sugarloaf Mountain which can clearly be seen in the background. Botafogo with its colonial buildings, art galleries, restaurants and shops is now one of Rio de Janeiro’s more affluent areas, but the beach suffers from problems with pollution and it is advised not to swim in the sea. The resort will host some of the events in the 2016 Olympic Games.

    Hotel Internacional, 33 Rio de Janeiro

    Another photograph from the Fox Talbot Museum Collection shows the Hotel Internacional in Rio de Janiero.

    The hotel was said to be the first in Brazil known for its elegance and comfort and according to the Rio News 1899, it was ‘most suitable for families and gentlemen of distinction’. It was situated amongst forests and had the ‘purest of air and an invigorating temperature’, whilst its views of the mountains, harbour and the sea were spectacular. The hotel served the’ finest wines and liquors’ and had ‘numerous showers and warm baths’. The ices and champagne were said to be the ‘finest in Christendom’.

    Roger Charles Tichbourne (1829–54)

    Roger Charles Tichbourne (1829–54), a rich British nobleman, was photographed by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company around1873. The photograph is in the collection at Melford Hall.

    On 20 April 1854, and suffering from a failed romance, Tichbourne sailed from Rio de Janiero aboard the Bella, bound for New York. A few days later, the ship was found adrift and Roger was presumed dead. Although the Bella had been officially declared lost, Roger’s mother, Lady Tichbourne, was convinced her son was still alive, and put adverts and articles in newspapers around the world seeking information as to his whereabouts. Eleven years later she received a letter from a man in Wagga Wagga, Australia, claiming to be Roger saying he had been rescued from the wreck of the Bella and taken to Australia where he had settled. The claimant, later discovered to be Arthur Orton, a butcher, was said to be Roger’s opposite in looks but his mother still believed he was her son and he was to inherit her fortune. After she died the Tichbourne family took legal action which took many years to resolve and cost around £100,000.

    The film The Tichbourne Claimant was made in 1998.