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Brazil - From Austria to the New World at Kunsthalle Krems
José Maria de Medeiros, Iracema, 1884. © Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro.

KREMS, AUSTRIA.- In fall the Kunsthalle Krems shows masterpieces of Brazilian painting from the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and other Brazilian collections for the first time in Europe, on view September 16, 2007 – February 17, 2008. Monumental paintings from Almeida Júnior, Pedro Weingärtner and others show the history of Brazil - from the fate of the indigenous population to christianization, from the jungle to the metropolis. The travel-paintings of Thomas Ender and numerous botanic, zoologic and cultural exhibits, brought back from the grand Brazil-expedition in 1817, show the specific Austrian relation to the Brazil of the 19th century.

The unique exhibition, counting more than 200 pieces, gives a survey of the issues in Brazilian painting in the 19th century. The scenic variety, decisive for the Brazilian self-perception and the emerging national feeling, is the subject of monumental artworks of mainly foreign painters in the first half of the 19th century. Artists such as Henry Chaimberlain from England or Johann Moritz Rugendas from Bavaria painted realistc images of the social life. Other main works broach the issue of the cultural and historical heritage of Brazil. Brazilian artists such as José Maria de Medeiros or Rodolfo Amoedo created an idealistic view on native Americans as a romantic allegory on the genesis of Brazil.

At the end of the 19th century naturalistic images of the Brazilian life gained more importance. This background studies of Almeida Júnior, Pero Weingärtner and others give an impressive evidence of every-day-life of the young Brazilian nation. They specifically focus on 'typical' scenes of the different milieus and show the distinctions between the ambitious urban regions and the rural areas, which culture was already in decline.

The Austrian relation to the Brazil of the 19th century originated in the marriage of the archduchess Maria Leopoldine from Austria with the Portuguese crown prince Dom Pedro, the later emperor of Brazil. In 1817 a delegation of 14 artists and scientists, among others the landscape painter Thomas Ender and the animal preparator Johann B. Natterer, traveled to Brazil in a great expedition, of which they sent thousands of botanic, zoologic and cultural exhibits back to Austria. The participants were asked to write a diary with accurate notes on plants and animals, their habitats, indigenous names and observations of all kinds. In periodic intervalls they should send the material and their surveys to Vienna. They were asked to especially note animals and plants, that could be cultivated in Europe. Until today an ethnographic collection of over 2000 pieces, originating from this expedition, has its home in the Viennese Museum of Etnography, stuffed animals are in Natural History Museum Vienna. In cooperation with the Natural History Museum Vienna and the Museum of Ethnopgraphy notable exhibits of these collections can be shown in Krems.

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