Punishment Imposed on the Negroes

Punishment Imposed on the Negroes, Jean-Baptiste Debret (1816-1831)
Carcan punition pour les esclaves en fuite [Punishment for slaves on the run]. Also known as: COLLE DE HIERRO-CASTIGO DE FUGITIVOS. From "Voyage pittoresque au Brésil" (Lithograph, 1816). Artist: Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848).

With the arrival of the Portuguese Imperial Court 1808, Rio de Janeiro began a transition from a bustling colonial port to a capital city fit for a European crown. One of the many projects that transformed the city was the French Artistic Mission, meant to bring European fine arts to Brazil. These artists would found the Royal School of Arts, which would become the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, where today stands the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Let's examine one example to see what we can discover about using art as an historical record. The first thing we notice about this composition is how very pleasant it is. The city streets are clean and orderly and the people are posed elegantly in brightly colored clothes.

Now, let's take a closer look: