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Handwritten letter from the Count D'Eu (1877)

Handwritten letter from the Count D'Eu (1877)

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Dom Pedro II shares three photographs of Damascus in Syria.

Handwritten letter from the Count of Eu. A leaf. In French. 12.8 cm x 20.6 cm. February 16, 1877. Excellent condition. Single piece.

Translation from French to Portuguese

"The Emperor instructs us, the Princess and I, to send you the enclosed letter, as well as the small scroll which accompanies it and which contains three photographic views of the city of Damascus."

Who among us has never asked a friend who was traveling to the United States to bring us that latest technological launch? Perhaps the cell phone of the year, or a computer with super memory, in fact, progress sometimes takes a while to reach our lands. However, this was not always the case. I can bet you didn't imagine that, in the 19th century, the best technology at the time had to offer first reached this side of the Atlantic. The reason? Dom Pedro II, the Emperor of Brazil, a cultured man, lover of the arts and sciences, and enthusiast of the innovations of the modern world. Pedro II encouraged the founding of schools, theaters and libraries, but he had a special passion: photography.

In 1836, the first photograph in the history of mankind was taken by Frenchman Joseph Niépce, who used a camera obscura. This invention promptly evolved, and the same Niépce, together with another French scientist, Daguerre, recorded in 1839 the invention of the daguerreotype, a primitive photographic camera. Only 4 months later, the discovery was already the subject of Brazilian newspapers. It is worth remembering that, in the 19th century, this was a record time. Even more impressive is that, already in 1840, the daguerreotype arrived in Brazil through the emperor, who since then entered the history of photography in the country.

Dom Pedro II boosted the production of daguerreotypes and cameras in Brazil, and recorded many moments of his life himself. In addition, he was a regular consumer of pioneering national photographers and promoted the artistic and cultural development of the country, providing public and private assistance, awards, medals and even scholarships to artists! Truth be told, Dom Pedro II was a visionary, as he understood, already two centuries ago, that photography was an artistic expression and an important historical record. So much so, that he even hired the renowned German photographer, Revert Henrique Klumb, to be Princess Isabel's photography teacher.

In addition, the emperor, who was fascinated by traveling the world through historic regions, never did so without capturing such an event, whether he was the photographer himself, or someone hired to accompany him on his trips. These expeditions yielded hundreds of photos, not only of the imperial majesty, but of the places through which he traveled. It is worth remembering that photography, in those times, was not as popular as it is today, which is why these first records of humanity's historic sites are today a source of study for historians and archaeologists around the world.

The result of Dom Pedro II's passion for photography was the largest collection of the early days of Brazilian photography. A collection of more than 25 thousand photos that Dom Pedro II donated to the National Library, when he was banished from Brazil in 1889, when the republic was proclaimed. The cultural heritage he gathered, however, remains a treasure of the country. It was from the French monarch Louis XIV one of the most famous phrases of humanity: the “I am the State” . However, Dom Pedro II uttered his own version of this great catchphrase: “I am science” .

Unusual fact, three of the main figures of the royal family are present in this letter in French from 1877: Princess Isabel, Dom Pedro II and the Count d´Eu who writes to an unknown addressee, a Monsieur, perhaps a researcher?

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