Urban Funeral, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1819-1820

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Image Reference

Henry Chamberlain, Views and costumes of the city and neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from drawings taken by Lieutenant Chamberlain, Royal Artillery, during the years 1819 and 1820, with descriptive explanations (London, 1822). The illustration shown here is taken from the Brazilian (Portuguese) edition, Vistas e costumes de cidade e arredores do Rio de Janeiro em 1819-1820 (Livaria Kosmos, Rio de Janeiro, 1943), p. 183 (plate 24 in the 1822 London edition). (Copy in University of Florida Library, Gainesville)

Title, "Funeral of a Negro," shows how "dead Negroes are carried to the burial ground allotted for their interment . . . .The corpse is sewn up in a coarse bag, put into a hammock slung to a pole, and an old blanket flung over all. It is thus carried to the grave, by two Negroes, without ceremony or mourners; a short prayer is then muttered over the body, and the earth is thrown in by one of the pole bearers, whilst the other with his feet and a heavy wooden stake, beats it down compactly over the body" (pp. 233-234). The people shown on the left are Amerindians. The foreground figures in Chamberlain's book were probably copied from water-colors drawn earlier by Joaquim Candido Guillobel. Born in Portugual in 1787, Guillobel came to Brazil in 1808, and from 1812 started "drawing and painting small pictures on cards of everyday scenes in Rio de Janeiro." For biographical details on Guillobel, who died in 1859, and reproductions of about 60 of his original drawings in color (but not the ones of the "Urban Funeral"), see Joaquim Candido Guillobel, Usos e Costumes do Rio de Janeiro nas figurinhas de Guillobel [1978]. The text of this volume is given in both Portuguese and English; the author of the biographical notes who is, presumably the compiler of the volume, is not given in the Library of Congress copy that was consulted. (See this website, "Chamberlain" for related drawings.)