Marianne in My Home - Brazil
Extracts from the interview with Josefina, participating in the Marianne in My Home project. Read and listen to what she thinks about Marianne North’s recollections of Brazil.
"My name is Josefina. I was born in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro in 1956, I lived there for thirty years and then I came to England to start a family here… but I always go back there anyway…
"Quite surprisingly Marianne North had been to the island where I was brought up… I was quite surprised some of her paintings of the beach, the resort where I was brought up. It was quite emotional… I was very happy to see my place.
"I thought it was very interesting everything what I read about her, her “report” about her trip to Brazil. The time when she wrote where she had been was 1872-1873 and at that time there were still slaves in Brazil…When she describes it… it is something that comes back, all the history and everything.
"Now Rio is much bigger; she mentioned she went to Botafogo where she stayed and that to me is not outside Rio that is a centre. But at that time we did not have that many buildings and people living there… so that was quite interesting to see that that place which for me is the centre of Rio
is seen as outside Rio… It is overpopulated now but the way she describes it is that it is very
wild and green…"
Marianne North on Brazil
Extracts from Recollections of a Happy Life by Marianne North. Memories of travel to Brazil.
"It took us in two more days safely into the beautiful Bay of Rio, which certainly is the most lovely sea-scape in the world: even Naples and Palermo must be content to hold a second place to it in point of natural beauty. I know nothing more trying to a shy person than landing for the first time among a strange people and language, I always dread it; so I asked the good Belgian merchant to help me, and he gave me into the care of one of his brothers, who not only landed me in his boat, but put me into a carriage which took me to the Hotel des Etrangers at Botofogo, on the outside of the town.
Paqueta Island, Brazil - the exact viewpoint from which Marianne made her painting
"Almost all the menial work in Rio is done by slaves, either for their owners or for those their owners hire them out to serve; for though laws are passed for the future emancipation of these slaves, it will be very gradual process, and full twenty years will elapse before it is entirely carried out. It would have been better perhaps of our former law-makers had not been in such a hurry, and so much led away by the absurd idea of “a man and a brother”…
"A good working man-slave could not be hired for less than £30 a year, though he might be fed and clothed (in slave fashion) for threepence a day: a girl for housework got £15 a year and two suits of clothes, besides sundry presents to herself to keep her in good humour, and prevent her from running away to her real owners. It is mistake to suppose that slaves are not well treated; everywhere I have seen them petted as we pet animals, and they usually went about grinning and singing...
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