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Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to a French scientist (1880)

Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to a French scientist (1880)

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In 1880, Dom Pedro II became interested in Graham Bell's new Photophone and observed Jupiter.

  • Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to Henri Edouard Tresca.
  • One page.
  • In French.
  • 13.6 cm x 21.1 cm.
  • Rio de Janeiro, 23rd of ? 1880.
  • Excellent condition.
  • Unique piece.


I haven't had many opportunities to talk about science in the last few months. We cannot yet appreciate the full importance of the principle from which the photophone was invented. I have read the latest reports from your government regarding the subway commission and I am waiting for official and private information on this matter.

I'm sending a new work from the Rio Observatory. I had the opportunity to enjoy the view of Jupiter's beautiful arch.

Greetings to you and to all my acquaintances in France.

Dom Pedro d'Alcântara.

Very interested in science and technology since he was a child, Dom Pedro II studied languages, astronomy, geology, archeology and several other disciplines throughout his life. Through readings, observations, travels and meetings, he gradually acquired real knowledge in these fields of research, despite the little time left for his political and administrative responsibilities as Emperor of Brazil.

Often accused of being indifferent to the country's social and political issues, causing Brazilian newspapers to frequently represent him with a telescope in his hand, a clear reference to his interest in astronomy, Dom Pedro II was highly praised by the academic world, literati and scientists, for their love and dedication to art and science. The Brazilian Historical and Geographic Institute (IHGB), for example, has received support from the Emperor since its founding in 1838, who participated in hundreds of meetings and personally financed several research projects.

Exiled in France in the last two years of his life after the Proclamation of the Republic, the deposed Emperor dedicated himself almost exclusively to his reading, research and scientific friendships, such as that with Henri Edouard Tresca (1814 - 1885). Tresca was such a renowned engineer that Gustave Eiffel had his name engraved on the Eiffel Tower, along with those of 71 other personalities who honored France from 1789 to 1889.

In the 1880s, Brazil continued to prosper, developing, including socially with, for example, the first movement for women's rights. However, the letters that Pedro II wrote at this time tend to show a tired and somewhat pessimistic man. Even though he took his responsibilities as Head of State seriously, he led without much enthusiasm.

Written precisely in 1880, this letter - in almost perfect French - shows all of Dom Pedro's curiosity and knowledge of science. The Emperor comments on an important discovery of the moment: the Photophone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant, the ancestor of today's smartphones. We see that the emperor also participates and shares in the research at the Rio de Janeiro Observatory, which he created in 1846.

The letter is particularly beautiful, with paper and ink in excellent condition. Also notable is the Emperor's elegant writing, which he signed "D. Pedro d´Alcantara", a custom of his with his foreign correspondents.

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