Acervo, Rio de Janeiro, v. 35, n. 3, set./dez. 2022

Independências: 200 anos de história e historiografia | Dossiê temático

The Centennial of the Independence of Brazil on the pages of the Almanaque de Pelotas (1922-1923)

El Centenario de la Independencia de Brasil en las páginas del Almanaque de Pelotas (1922-1923) / O Centenário da Independência do Brasil nas páginas do Almanaque de Pelotas (1922-1923)

Aristeu Elisandro Machado Lopes

PhD in History from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Associate Professor in the Department of History and the Graduate Program in History at the Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPel), Brazil.


The article analyzes how the Almanaque de Pelotas addressed the Centenary of Brazil’s political Independence in the 1922 and 1923 editions. It focuses on the writers’ choices regarding the highlights given both to the city of Pelotas (RS), in a perspective of its insertion in the national urban modernity, and to the celebrations of the event from different image constructions of d. Pedro I.

Keywords: Almanaque de Pelotas; centenary; Brazil’s Independence; celebrations.


El artículo analiza cómo el Almanaque de Pelotas ha abordado el Centenario de la Independencia política de Brasil en las ediciones de 1922 y 1923. Examina las elecciones de los redactores en lo que se refiere al destaque que se ha dado tanto a la ciudad de Pelotas (RS), desde una perspectiva de su inserción en la modernidad urbana nacional, cuanto a las conmemoraciones de la efeméride a partir de distintas construcciones de la imagen de D. Pedro I.

Palabras clave: Almanaque de Pelotas; centenario; Independencia de Brasil; conmemoraciones.


O artigo analisa como o Almanaque de Pelotas abordou o Centenário da Independência política do Brasil nas edições de 1922 e 1923. Atenta para as escolhas dos redatores quanto aos destaques dados tanto à cidade de Pelotas (RS), numa perspectiva de sua inserção na modernidade urbana nacional, quanto às comemorações da efeméride a partir de diferentes construções da figura de d. Pedro I.

Palavras-chave: Almanaque de Pelotas; centenário; Independência do Brasil; comemorações.

Initial considerations

To the great soul of the homeland, Pelotas, as part of the Brazilian communion, – in an expression of vitality and as a result of its civic spirit – prepares, with pride, to unite all its jubilations and blessings, caressing the intention, in this mark of love for Brazil, to celebrate the National Centennial with dignity.

Osório Filho (1922, p. 63)

The epigraph above was extracted from the text “Pelotas, a próspera cidade no Centenário da Pátria Livre”, [Pelotas, a prosperous city in the Centennial of the Free Homeland], by Fernando Luís Osório Filho,1 published in the 1922 Almanaque de Pelotas. The author presents the project for the festivities of the Centennial of the Independence of Brazil that would be held in the city during the last months of 1922 and the first months of 1923. The content of the narrative made explicit how Pelotas was inserted in the Brazilian context celebrating the Centennial, in the same way as other cities in the country,2 and would take advantage of the moment to demonstrate a supposed Pelotense patriotism and also to present itself as a modern city. The present article analyzes two volumes of the Almanaque de Pelotas, referring to the years of 1922 and 1923, which dealt with the celebrations of the hundred years of the Brazilian Independence. First, we will discuss the aspects related to the modernity of the city in the context of the event, and then we will identify and analyze how the publication builds a narrative about the political event, highlighting the actions of d. Pedro I.

The texts that dealt with the history of Independence in the pages of the Almanaque can be considered close to the style of a historiographical practice based on the political deeds of men who were seen as heroes. As Maria Lígia Prado states, “The Independence – considered the moment of foundation of the homeland – and its heroes, thought as artisans of this herculean task, constituted a privileged object of the incipient national historiography” (Prado, 1999, p. 29). Likewise, in the year of the Centennial, in 1922, such perspective changed just a little: “As it completed 100 years of existence on September 7 1922, the history of the construction of the Brazilian Empire still essentially focused on the study of the facts and the great characters that had accomplished the Independence” (Neves, 2020, p. 4). The production conveyed in the copies of the Almanaque is considered important for the understanding of how the Centennial was celebrated, considering that it is, evidently, a dated production and coherent with the moment of its writing.

Pelotas, founded in 1812, as the parish of São Francisco de Paula, had its own reasons for not letting the date pass without commemorations. Throughout the nineteenth century, its elites maintained relations with the imperial family of Brazil. Several people from Pelotas occupied important positions in the court as shown by the experiences of Francisco Antunes Maciel, the counselor Maciel, who was a member of the Cabinet of May 24 1883 (Paula, 2019, p. 142) and Antônio Ferreira Viana, Minister of Justice in the last cabinet of the Empire (Vargas, 2007, p. 62). Pelotas also had an important performance in the national economy, standing out in the production of charque [beef jerky] – product commercialized to several regions in Brazil and of intense exploitation of enslaved workers.

In the year of the Centennial of Independence, certain social groups and political leaders of the city still boasted this past and celebrated the advantage of a modern city. From the 1910s on “the main urban ‘comforts’ were installed and/or consolidated for the population” (Gonçalves, 2017, p. 48). Among others, electricity, landscaping of streets, squares and parks, hygiene of public spaces, paving for pedestrians and cars in the main streets downtown, piped water in the central area, sewage system in parts of the streets, telephone network, public transport. The Almanaque de Pelotas, therefore, manifests the idealized city that intensely lived its times of modernity3 and the commemorations of the Centennial meet this perspective, inserting Pelotas in the itinerary of national celebrations.

O Almanaque de Pelotas

The first volume of the Almanaque de Pelotas – or according to the spelling at the time, Almanach – appeared in 1913 and its last publication was dedicated to the year of 1935. Its founders were Antônio Gomes da Silva, Ignácio Alves Ferreira and Florentino Paradeda, who set the firm Ferreira & Cia., and from 1919 Paradeda assumed exclusively the direction of the publication (Lima, 2015, p. 66). On the cover of the volumes were the words “varieties, information, advertisements”, informing the reader about the main issues that would be covered in the various sections that made up the Almanaque. Concerning the advertisements, Paula Lima points out that they were not only regular advertisements, but also “advertisement of the city and its subjects that were undertaking great benefits for the city” (Lima, 2015, p. 78).4

Throughout the years of circulation of the Almanaque, the urbanity of the city of Pelotas received considerable visibility in the volumes, especially from the photographs that highlighted the urban landscapes, with projected streets, squares, intense transit of passers-by, cars, records of urban and daily life, among other elements that comprised the understanding of what the modernity of the city would be like. The almanacs

belong to a moment of cultural life of the West, linked to the larger project of the idea of civilization and progress. Thus, they are, at the same time, great cultural and social disseminators in terms of a civilizing project, as analyzed by Elias (1990; 1993), related to a process of construction and validation of a whole code of conducts and values that were historically rooted in Western societies. (Dutra, 2005, p. 18)

The publication from Pelotas meets the author’s statement as it emphasizes, in its pages, the progress and civilization enjoyed by the city residents, men and women who owned and enjoyed the benefits of the elements that constitute the idea of modernity at that time.5 One example is found in the advertisement of the Hotel Aliança, in the volume of 1922, that highlighted: “all the modern comfort”; “electric light lighting”; “with telephone sets in all bedrooms as well as piped water”, that it, the business provided to its guests all the benefits and resources originated from the urban progress, similarly seen in the city (Almanaque de Pelotas, 1922, p. 14).

Despite the propagandistic tone referring to the city modernity, the Almanaque did not leave aside one of the main characteristics of this type of publication, i.e., the publication of advertisements that announced the commercial, industrial and service businesses located in Pelotas. According to survey conducted by Paula Lima, in the set of volumes, 4,107 advertisements were published (Lima, 2015, p. 48). A considerable part of the pages was filled with advertisements, which certainly financed the publication, in addition to the price charged for the copy. Still, according to the author, “it was a product created to be the readers’ companion, a type of calendar-agenda, and this intention is clearly found in the preface of the first edition” (Lima, 2015, p. 69). The almanacs, therefore, were publications with several purposes that enabled its owners the practical use of its pages, mainly those dedicated to the record of daily tasks, to note important dates, check the days and months of the year, identify which was the saint of the day, the holidays expected in the year, the phases of the moon, among other resources (Meyer, 2001).

The almanacs, with the calendar, served to guide and schedule the life of its user, or, according to Jacques Le Goff’s interpretation, the divisions of the calendar made it possible to control “the relations between this and the pace of work, free time and celebrations. The ones who control the calendar indirectly control the work, free time and celebrations” (Le Goff, 2003, p. 486). The almanac, then, was a “printed publication that set temporal landmarks and imposed the paces of daily life, in a mixture of natural, religious and secular references” (Pimenta; Costa, 2021, p. 58, emphasis added), serving as a parameter for the writing of an ordered time (Park, 1999, p. 44). Thus, the annual program almanacs needed to be made available to the public always at the end of year before the next, allowing the management of time and the control of the calendar as of January. The Almanaque de Pelotas was a publication of such type, with spaces for note taking referring to the entire year.

And it is from this observation that it is possible to understand how the topics referring to the Centennial of the Independence of Brazil were distributed. The volume referring to 1922 – probably made available at the end of 1921 – contained the text by Fernando Osório Filho which explained the project for the commemorations. The volume for the year of 1923 – which appeared at the end of 1922 – contained texts and images on the commemorative date, highlighting the actions of d. Pedro I.

The Project for the Centennial celebrations

Returning to the text by Osório Filho, it is possible to notice that the Centennial was remembered by the author – and by the editors of the Almanaque – more than a year before it took place. As this author explained, the Biblioteca Pública de Pelotas [Pelotense Public Library] “opportunely and vigilantly, took the initiative for the commemoration” while he was in charge of preparing a project. His proposal foresaw, among other achievements, a

unique exhibition, at our Library, industrial, historical, manufacturing, retrospective and artistic, in which, among parties, showed the progress of several interesting small industries, that thrive in Pelotas, even the schools handworks, along with a selection of many historical and artistic objects in possession of Pelotense families. (Osório Filho, 1922, p. 69)

The project did not present something new, as the idea of exhibitions for the celebration of commemorative dates and economic exaltation was not a novelty. One example is the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889, carried out at the year of the Centennial of the French Revolution. The universal exhibitions, considered as “typical phenomena of the nineteenth century”, also had a “properly economic dimension, of goods fair, showcase of new products [...] profitable businesses” (Pesavento, 1997, p. 43). In Rio de Janeiro, in the year of the Centennial of the Independence of Brazil, a great exhibition was held, being the “first time an international exhibition was held in Brazil” (Junqueira, 2011, p. 161).

Osório Filho’s exhibition followed the same script, that is, besides being an event to celebrate the Centennial, it would also be a moment to highlight the economy, celebrate culture and value education and its institutions. Regarding the industrial and commercial activities, Pelotas had, in the 1920s, a diversified network. Besides a varied commercial square, it had factories of various segments, such as, among others, of candies and caramels, biscuits, footwear, canned goods, wagons, hats, beer, elixirs, brushes and brooms, smokes, dishes, suitcases and chests, furniture, clothing, soap and candles, glassware, pasta, bricks and tiles and tanneries (Loner, 2016, p. 335-337). Many of these businesses advertised their products in the volumes of the Almanaque and, certainly, it was relying on the sponsorship of its owners that Osório Filho presented the proposal for the exhibition.

The exhibition, therefore, was a commemoration for the Centennial of Independence, based on the construction of a national history, but also a celebration of the Pelotense modernity and its social, cultural and economic advances. In this sense, the commemoration can be understood from the explanation of Fernando Catroga:

as consensual celebrations, the commemorations are ritualizations of History. And, as in any rite, they move the officiants and participants, putting on stage, in a time and space coated with some civic sacredness, a spectacle that, as an alternative to chaos, symbolizes the ideal order and the meaning of History that it aims to legitimize. Therefore, they also integrate the participants and spectators through parades and visual effects, in order to capture the largest popular support possible. (Catroga, 2000)

The author mentions that the centenary celebrations held in Portugal, such as, among others, that of the Independence of Brazil, were relevant to value the national history, recalling the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil: “the feat of the Discoveries, a historicist exploration that aimed to trigger effects of self-esteem and national revival, so as to have, as in the previous commemorations, the promotion of patriotism as an imperial dream” (Catroga, 2005, p. 136).

Therefore, the commemorations are directly associated with a project of a national history – both in Brazil as well as in Portugal – for which the celebration of the Centennial of Independence was used to reinforce its construction. In this sense, it is possible to understand that the discussion on the commemorations of the Centennial present in the two volumes of the Almanaque de Pelotas and, above all, the proposal for the exhibition, is part of the construction of this national history that celebrated the past but was in line with the present of its creators: “Es el presente el que crea sus instrumentos de conmemoración, el que corre tras las fechas y las figuras a conmemorar, el que las ignora o las multiplica, el que las coloca arbitrariamente dentro del programa impuesto [...]. La historia propone, pero el presente dispone” (Nora, 2008, p. 176).

Osório Filho’s text ends, precisely, pointing out considerations about the present that celebrates its independent past. He mentions the participation of Pelotas in the celebrations: “the municipality is the primary cell of the Nation’s organism [...] one loves the whole, because one loves each of its parts”, that is: “of this majestic tree called Nation, there is no one who does not feel that the root is the native soil” (Osório Filho, 1922, p. 78). The long article ends by making it clear that Pelotas, in the present, plays an important role in the celebrations of the Centennial of Independence, despite its geographical location far from the federal capital.

Among the text pages, the Almanaque presented to the readers an illustration about Independence (Figure 1). It is a reproduction of the canvas A fundação da pátria brasileira, by the painter Eduardo de Sá, “delivered to the Municipal Council of the Federal District, in 1902” (Leal, 2006, p. 113).6 The lithograph, printed on white paper,7 did not indicate the painter’s name or the origin of the reproduction. It only informed the person responsible for its making. Its author identified himself as Brisol, which was probably the photographer who worked in the city in the first half of the twentieth century.8 The same signature is seen in other illustrations of the Almanaque, which suggests the possibility that the photographer was also dedicated to lithography.

Figure 1 – A fundação da pátria brasileira. Almanaque de Pelotas, 1922, s.p. Author’s collection

The lack of indication of the origin of the image does not allow us to verify which model the artist used to make his illustration. However, it is possible to consider the hypothesis that he did not produce his replica from the original painting, that was in Rio de Janeiro, but rather that his copy was made based on others that were published in other media. An illustration of the canvas was published in Século XX: Revista de Letras, Artes e Sciencias, from Rio de Janeiro, in 1906, and also published as a postcard.9 These are two examples of reproductions of the painting and, certainly, other copies in other formats were also produced. If it is not possible to indicate the origin, it is feasible to consider that such reproductions arrived in Pelotas enabling Brisol to transpose them to the pages of the Almanaque.

Eduardo de Sá’s canvas presents, in the foreground, José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva with the flag of the Empire of Brazil on his lap being observed by d. Pedro I and three other figures, representing whites, indigenous people and black people. D. Pedro I points his right arm towards José Bonifácio in a movement that indicates consonance with his act of forging the flag, that is, building the independent empire. According to Ana Rosa da Silva: “in the course of his intellectual education, José Bonifácio triggered a set of reforms for Brazil, which, although inserted in the continuity of the Luso-Brazilian empire project, ended up bequeathing the very basis for its conception as an independent political body” (Silva, 2006, p. 360). He became an important advisor and the main minister of d. Pedro I, collaborating with the routing and consolidation of the breakup process with Portugal (Lustosa, 2006; Dolhnikoff, 2012).

These issues were considered by Eduardo de Sá when making the painting, placing him as the preponderant figure in the canvas, although d. Pedro I is placed in the center of the painting. It can be noticed that the other hand of the future emperor of Brazil is on the hilt of his sword, a possible reference to the act of the prince regent on September 7th, 1822.

The white man is in consonance with d. Pedro I. His raised arm signals the celebration of the end of the colonial condition. The native indigenous man, who also observes José Bonifácio, has his hand on his chin, a gesture that indicates distrust in relation to the construction of the empire. The black woman also observes the act. However, unlike the white man that celebrates and the distrustful indigenous man, her arms are tied to a trunk, a clear allusion to the condition of captivity, as the Independence did not bring freedom for the enslaved population.

Eduardo de Sá, an enthusiast of republican ideals and a positivist artist, although he conceived a canvas in exaltation of Independence, makes a criticism of Brazil Imperium, since the country that emerged in 1822 did not equally consider the “three races” that built Brazil. Cecília de Salles Oliveira, when analyzing the work of the English dealer John Armitage, settled in Rio de Janeiro in the 1820s, explains the participation of political groups involved in the process of Independence and role attributed to the people. According to the author, in the period between 1821 and 1823 there was “the involvement of the ‘Brazilians’ with politics, with the claims related to the enlargement of the space of participation and influence in the government”. These “Brazilians” were the ones who “chose to ally themselves around d. Pedro and the political break with Portugal to face the interference of the courts of Lisbon” (Oliveira, 2009, p. 34-35) and they were assigned to,

as citizens, to transform the conduct of the "people", preparing them for the new constitutional government that was being organized, so that the “inertia and indolence of the people of this land”10 were gradually replaced by education, moralizing the customs, and by methodical and disciplined free work. (Oliveira, 2009, p. 36)

The White man was to be the agent responsible for moralizing, disciplining and instituting the free work, transforming mistrust (of the indigenous) and slavery (of the black) into a national feeling of Brazilian “people”. This idea persisted in the decades following Independence, as exemplified by the canvas produced in the beginning of the twentieth century and also in its reproduction on the page of the almanac in the year of the Centennial.

The reproduction of the canvas, however, bears no relation to Fernando Osório Filho’s text, not even on other pages. Although he claims in a single sentence that Independence was a “popular work”, since “after all, it is the people who make history” (Osório Filho, 1922, p. 73, italics in original), no reference is made to the reproduction of the canvas. The visual resource meets the demand of this type of publication, its use is much more in the simple sense of serving as illustration and, in this case, also as a celebration and anticipation to the celebrations in Pelotas. However, the images are not mere illustrations, they “are an important form of historical evidence” (Burke, 2004, p. 17). In the case of the painting conceived by Eduardo de Sá, it is possible to consider that, at the same time that there is an exaltation to the patriarch of Independence and a reference in the background to d. Pedro I, he also conceived a criticism to the process that did not grant the same rights to the original indigenous populations, the enslaved Africans and their descendants. Unaware of this possible reading of the canvas, except for more critical and attentive readers, the Almanaque published its reproduction with the sole purpose of commemorating the Centennial.

D. Pedro I and the Centennial Celebrations

In its 1923 volume, the Almanaque de Pelotas gave great prominence to the role of the Prince Regent d. Pedro in the independence process. Again, the first text, entitled “Pedro I”, was written by Fernando Osório Filho. His narrative analyzes the performance of the prince and pointed to him as a “popular hero” who placed himself “at the head of the movement” (Osório Filho, 1923, p. I). The author explains the supposed reasons for choosing the monarchical path and not the republican, according to the model of other Latin American independent states. According to him, the reason would be in the figure of d. Pedro I who “acted prudently, under inspiration of the full integrity of the territory and the national unity” (p. I). However, at that moment, both in Pelotas and in Rio Grande do Sul, the Riograndense Republican Party was the preponderant body, and it was necessary to make it clear in the text that praised the action of the prince, words that should be read with sympathy by the republican coreligionists. The author explains that the monarchy was only the result of the “decisive historical moment”, although it was a solution without “tradition”:

Republicans owe a love to truth and justice. And the severity of history suggests highlighting the set of circumstances that produced the postponement of the logical republican solution. In fact, in Brazil there was no monarchical tradition and the attempts at separation from the metropolis before 1822, in various parts of Brazil, had been for the foundation of the Republic. (Osório Filho, 1923, p. I-II)

The passage makes it evident that, despite the importance of the celebration of the Centennial of Independence – held by a monarchist that, soon after, would become Emperor d. Pedro I – the republican regime was the “logical solution” postponed until 1889. Osório Filho, in this way, explains to the readers that the event should not be remembered with a monarchist nostalgia, but that the choice in 1822, should be seen from the circumstances of that moment.11

On the other hand, the republican regime, still in the author’ words, was the best form of government and if it was not an option for independent Brazil, there were no doubts whatsoever after 1889. It is important to highlight that the Osório Family had strong relations with the Republic. Fernando Osório’s father, who has the same name and was one of the republican enthusiasts in the state, chaired the club União Republicana de Pelotas and made a political career in the early republican years even occupying one of the seats in the Senate of the Republic in 1894 (Osório, 2011, p. 47). Thus, although the text praises d. Pedro I’s performance, it makes it explicit that it is outdated and, by making a reference to the republican ideology, it avoids any possible conflict about the intention of the content of his words towards his republican peers.

In one page before beginning the text, the Almanaque presented the first image about the Independence. D. Pedro I appears in profile, in a lithograph that did not present its origin, but only the artist responsible for its reproduction, again Brisol (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – D. Pedro I proclaimer of the Independence of Brazil. Almanaque de Pelotas, 1923, s.p. Author’s collection

In the illustration, the first emperor of Brazil is depicted wearing a highneck uniform with embroidered details and epaulettes, in addition to bearing several badges. The considerable number of emblems was not exaggerated if compared to all the represented distinctions he possessed, including those instituted by himself:

Concerning the distinctions, d. Pedro I wore the wide ribbon in the colors of the main orders; the plaque with the three gathered Portuguese orders: Cristo, Aviz e São Tiago de Espada, and the insignia of the Golden Fleece. He held the great crosses of the following orders: Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Vila Viçosa; that of Charles III and Isabel the Catholic; de São Luís of France; Santo Estêvão of Hungary; the old Order of Tower and Sword of Valer, Loyalty and Merit; of the Holy Spirit and São Miguel, of France. He was grand-master of the Imperial Order of the Cross, and later, of Pedro I and Rosa, all three instituted by him. (Rodrigues, 1953, p. 30)

The portrait of d. Pedro I published in the Almanaque is in agreement with the author’s description, although it is not possible to distinguish in the illustration which emblem corresponds to the title bestowed. However, it is likely that the one in the center of the uniform, is the Golden Fleece, once “hanging from the neck in red ribbon, which was only granted to monarchs and princes of reigning houses” (Rodrigues, 1953, p. 11).

The illustration also resembles other visual productions of the emperor, almost always in uniform and with several insignias. Two examples are the engraving produced by Charles Simon Pradier, probably in 1822,12 and the Retrato de dom Pedro I, by Simplício de Sá, from 1826.13 However, in the post-Independence, several images of the emperor were produced and circulated, between the years of 1826 and 1828, “throughout the provinces of Brazil and Europe, especially Portugal” (Murano, 2013, p. 33):

There are several engravings, oil paintings, equestrian portraits, busts, statues, dishes and personal use objects. The iconography, in general, presents the emperor in his military uniform, with all his insignias and, many times, in front of a Brazilian landscape showing his sovereignty in front of the vast territory. At this time, several cartoons were published. (Murano, 2013, p. 33)

It is probable that many of these images, as well as new reproductions, continued to circulate in decades after the 1820s. This finding allows us to consider – as it was pointed out for the case of the reproduction of Eduardo de Sá’s canvas, in the 1922 issue – that the engraver Brisol had access to some copies of portrait drawings and illustrations of d. Pedro I, which facilitated the making for the publication of the Almanaque.

If the first image presented d. Pedro I in official uniform with his insignias, the following text, called “O grito do Ypiranga”, by Francisco Assis Cintra,14 presented a description of what would have occurred with the then Prince Regent on the banks of the Ipiranga creek.

The beginning of the text criticizes Pedro Américo’s canvas, Independência ou Morte, and the high relief by sculptor Ettore Ximenes. While calling the work of the former a “beautiful historical canvas”, and that of the latter “impressive”, it stats that both “perpetuate a historical untruth”:

These two artists represent Pedro I with a drawn sword, wearing a brilliant party uniform, riding a fiery steed, shouting enthusiastically – Independência ou Morte! – amidst the dragons of his guard, on the hill of Ypiranga. However, this is not how the historical scene of our political emancipation was played out. (Cintra, 1923b, p. 103)

He then goes on to describe, in detail, what would be the “truth” about what happened. In one of the parts of the text reports that “d. Pedro did not ride a fiery steed but a simple beast” (Cintra, 1923b, p. 104). According to Felipe Machado’s analysis: “To Cintra it would be necessary to alert to the lies of Pedro Américo’s canvas and clarify the true facts of the event. Denouncing that the emperor had been victimized by diarrhea, he used ridicule to the dismantling he intended” (Machado, 2004, p. 75). Still according to the author, Cintra became adept of realism and defended that “the art should express the truth and should deny imperfect representations” (Machado, 2004, p. 75).15

A comparison of Francisco Cintra’s text with the previous one by Fernando Osório Filho, allows for some pertinent observations. The first was a researcher on the subject of Independence and his production resulted from documentary research16 while the second was not a specialist on the subject and wrote from consultations to other works. Thus, while Cintra in his text pointed out divergences from Pedro Américo’s conception, writing a less pompous version of the prince’s act in São Paulo, Osório Filho considered him a popular hero.

The Almanaque presents to its readers these two possible interpretations of d. Pedro I’s actions, that is, the heroic one, pointed out by Osório, and the “true”, defended by Cintra. However, as the main objective of the issued was the celebration of the Centennial, the points of view pointed out by Cintra were not, probably, considered a taint to the ephemerid, but, on the contrary, served to demonstrate the “truth”.

Thus, the two versions were published and their interpretations would remain for the reading public. Regardless of these positions, the current historiography attributes a minor relevance to what happened in the region of Ipiranga, in São Paulo, in 1822. Lúcia Maria das Neves points out that the cry “Independence or Death” is nowadays celebrated as the declaration of Independence. “However, for the contemporaries of September seventh, it had no special meaning, not even being reported by the press at the time” (Neves, 2003, p. 369-370). The act is part of the construction of an official narrative, created after Independence and important to reinforce the construction of a new country and, for such history, Pedro Américo’s canvas contributed greatly. Cintra, in his publications in the first decades of the twentieth century, sought to demystify this version, but presented another that, although based on documents, was defended as unique and true. In this way, his production meets a current proposal that defends the study of Independence from “multiple aspects, complexities and specific historical circumstances, without reducing it to a single cause or date” (Neves, 2009, p. 97).17

Not only the texts published in the Almanaque presented different versions of d. Pedro I, but the illustrations as well. Despite Cintra’s criticism, the painting Independência ou morte was reproduced in one page, but, in another, the Almanaque presented a polemic illustration, in which it was speculated, at the time of its release, that Domitila de Castro do Canto e Melo, the marchioness of Santos, would have been the inspiration for its creation. It is a reproduction of Salve! Querido brasileiro dia! 24 de março de 1824, a lithograph by Charles Philibert Lasteyrie Du Saillant from a drawing by Gianni, possibly from 182418 (Figure 3).

According to the caption of the Almanaque, d. Pedro I was breaking “the chains that bound Brazil to the metropolis”, that is, the interpretation is directed to the lower part of the image, in which a male figure with arms wrapped in snakes held one of the legs of the indigenous woman, saved by d. Pedro I, who stepped with one foot on the shoulder and the other on the arm of the “monster, representing despotism” (Chillón, 2017, p. 206). The illustration, in this way, presented the “idea of protection and liberation that is being used in the republican rhetoric of South American nations in the images of generals, such as Bolívar” (Chillón, 2017, p. 206). The description indicates the artist (erroneously placed as Granni) and that he produced it in Paris. Although it does not appear in the reproduction, it was reported to have a caption: “Salve glorious day”, which appears in the original version belonging to the Biblioteca Nacional [National Library].

Figura 3 – D. Pedro I breaking the chains. Almanaque de Pelotas, 1923, s.p. Author’s collection

This phrase, associated to the beginning of the caption, which placed d. Pedro I breaking the chains, allowed a misinterpretation in the Almanaque, since it does not refer to the break between Brazil and Portugal, but to the promulgation of the Constitution of the Empire of 1824. According to Iara Lis Souza, the engraving was also identified as Pedro I e a América. According to the author, the indigenous woman is rescued by d. Pedro I, reinforcing the link between “America and the Brazilian land”:

In military attire, he elevates her, removing her from a lower condition, to a better and higher level. This work commemorated March 25, the date of the Constitution. D. Pedro endowed Brazil with laws, removing it from its previous state and giving it a set of rules to regulate it. In this consisted the elevation of this land by the hands of the constitutional emperor. The accomplice look between them, the chivalry and the firmness with which D. Pedro touched her, the girl’s acknowledged smile, her projected body, which moved with effort and lightness, demonstrated the good and affectionate relations between one and the other, a sincere and restrained, almost romantic, lovingness. (Souza, 1999, p. 296)

The author’s last sentence implicitly points to the polemic caused soon after the print was published, which is explained by Souza in the image caption: “Tradition has it that Gianni had the marchioness of Santos as a model to make this America, reinforcing the amorous tone of the characters” (Souza, 1999, p. 321). Those responsible for the production of the Almanaque de Pelotas were aware of this possible relationship between the indigenous woman and the marchioness of Santos, information found in the caption: “This precious work of art caused a profound sensation, and even scandal, because of the face of the Brazil figure, unexpectedly feminine, reproduced, with perfect fidelity, the features of the marchioness of Santos, Pedro I’s lover”.

The Almanaque referred to it not only in the image, but also in one of the texts published, called “Não tens culpa” (It is not your fault). At the beginning of the text there is the information that it is about “curious reminiscences about d. Pedro I” published in O Jornal, newspaper from Rio de Janeiro and, again, authored by Francisco Cintra.19 D. Pedro I is seen as a man with “defects and vices: the biggest of all was the ‘tail of skirt’” and when before a woman, he “lost his composure and sense”, not mattering whether it was “a simple marafona [whore] or the spouse of one of his ministers” (Cintra, 1923a, p. 121). The marchioness of Santos is described as having a “face of an angel”, “almost empress”, “happy lover” and concubine who infringed “the greatest humiliations” to the empress Maria Leopoldina (Cintra, 1923a, p. 122). The title is a reference to one of the supposed answers of the empress when she was introduced to one of the “mistress’s daughters”.

The editors of the Almanaque de Pelotas, by reproducing the illustration that caused a sensation when it was disclosed and published in the Rio de Janeiro newspaper in February 1922, showed they knew about the history of the emperor of Brazil, especially regarding details of his intimate life. d. Pedro I extramarital relationship with the marchioness of Santos, however, was not secret. According to Isabel Lustosa, “during seven years the passion had no limits; d. Pedro’s letters to the marchioness provide testimony of the erotic intensity and, also, the strong feeling that united d. Pedro to Domitila” (Lustosa, 2006, p. 187). The Almanaque de Pelotas, when publishing Cintra’s text and the illustration of the engraving, possibly did not intend to remember the unfaithful relationship of the first emperor of Brazil, but to present to the readers curiosities about his personal life, turning the affair between the two into entertainment to its readers. On the other hand, this did not mean to recall the date and the biography of d. Pedro I only from his intimacy, as confirmed by the texts of Fernando Osório Filho and others, besides the other illustrations.20 Thus, the publication presented interpretations on the history of the process that led Brazil to become independent, from the protagonism of the prince and, concomitantly, marked his participation in the centennial celebrations.

Final considerations

The analysis of the two volumes of the Almanaque de Pelotas, from 1922 and 1923, made it possible to see how the city was inserted in the national context of the festivities of the Centennial of Independence of Brazil. First, the ephemeris was used to highlight the advances of the city and its urban modernity. Fernando Osório Filho’s text, from 1922, exemplifies this relation. For the author, this would be the moment for Pelotas to show what it had best in social, economic and cultural spheres, presenting all the elements that would characterize it as a modern city. A position resumed in the 1923 volume, in the text “How Pelotas will celebrate the Centennial”, in which the date was used as a moment to reinforce the progress of the city, expanding the urban improvements and presenting the city as modern: “soon, imposing themselves to the outsider, in the new life that they feel, in the city, the trams and cars, which attest the idea of haste and energy, – the public improvements highlighted in the excellence of the pavement, the afforestation and lighting, which are generalized” (Almanaque de Pelotas, 1923, p. 340). Thus, the celebration was inserted in the national itinerary of the festivities, but the main highlight would not be the seventh of September, but rather the city of Pelotas.

The Almanaque also celebrated the Centennial by publishing texts and reproductions of images about Independence. The highlight was d. Pedro I, presented from two views of his biography, the one that placed him as a popular hero and, the other, showing his relationship with the marchioness of Santos. The Almanaque published two versions for its readers, which, instead of being conflicting, were complementary. In the first, it was highlighted the action of the Prince Regent in favor of the separation of Brazil from Portugal until the achievement of Independence, while the second dealt with his private life.

Analyzing part of the production of the Almanaque on the hundred years of Independence, in the year of its bicentennial, allows us to see how a publication from southern Brazil was up to date with the commemorative context of the Centennial. In other words, the geographic remoteness was not an obstacle for the commemorations to be planned and developed exalting not only the event, but also celebrating the progress of Pelotas.

Tradução de Edilberto Treptow


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Recebido em 16/2/2022

Aprovado em 26/5/2022


1    Fernando Osório Filho (1886-1939) was a lawyer and writer, and his works include: A cidade de Pelotas, published in 1922 as part of the celebrations of the Centennial of Independence. The Almanaque, in the 1923 volume, highlights the “Edition of the historical-literary book, with multiple engravings, on the life of Pelotas, (body, heart and eason) in charge of Dr. Fernando Osório” (Almanaque de Pelotas, 1923, p. 340).

2    In Rio de Janeiro, an international exhibition was being prepared and in São Paulo, the Monument of Independence was under construction.

3    In the first year of Almanaque, in 1913, the editors say that their purpose was to carry out the “propaganda of their beloved land, its progress and the exaltation of its virtues, attributes and raised acts of the countrymen who had made such an honor and must be given their value” (Gonçalves, 2017, p. 22).

4    Information on contributors, format, number of pages per volume, contents, print runs, values, circulation, see: Lima (2015, p. 66-100).

5    Besides the Almanaque de Pelotas, the magazine Ilustração Pelotense (1919-1926) and the Álbum de Pelotas, from 1922, published on account of the Centennial of Independence, present photographs that highlight the modernity in Pelotas, see: (Michelon, 2001; Lima, 2015; Gonçalves, 2017). These publications are added to the daily newspapers Diário Popular (1890-present), Opinião Pública (1896-1962), A Alvorada (1907-1965) and O Rebate (1914-1923), comprising the contemporary Pelotense press to the years of circulation of the Almanaque.

6    Nowadays, the canvas is exhibited at Palácio Pedro Ernesto, headquarters of Rio de Janeiro’s City Council.

7    “The internal pages of the Almanaques de Pelotas were made of newsprint, of low grammage and porous, except for the insertion of some pages in other colors (pink, green or blue), in smoother and waxed paper, and of thicker white pages, also smoother, for the reproduction of pictures and some illustrations” (Lima, 2015, p. 124).

8    According to research conducted by Mariana Gonçalves, it is likely that the signature Brisol referred to the Brisolara studio, “but it was not possible to prove the relationship between both due to the absence of sources” (Gonçalves, 2017, p. 23).

9    A postcard reproduction can be viewed in the website of an auction company, available at: Access on: Jan 18th, 2022.

10    John Armitage quote.

11    José Murilo de Carvalho presents the explanation for the monarchic choice in 1822: “the separation was made keeping the monarchy and the house of Bragança. [...]. The choice for a monarchical solution instead of a republican one was due to the conviction of the elite that only the figure of a king could maintain the social order and the union of the provinces that formed the old colony. The example of what had happened and still happened in the former Spanish colony scared the elite” (Carvalho, 2008, p. 27).

12    The engraving belongs to the Biblioteca Nacional [National Library] collection. According to: Pradier, Charles Simon. S. A. R. the great prince d. Pedro royal prince of theh United Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil and Algarves. [S.l.: s.n.], [1822?]. 1 engraving, etching and engraving, pb, 33,2 x 21 cm e 37 x 27,5 cm. Available at: Access on: Jan 28 2022.

13    The canvas belongs to the collection of the Museu Imperial/Iphan/MinC (Petrópolis, RJ). Its reproduction can be seen in the Itaú Cultural Encyclopedia. According to: Portrait of d. Pedro I. In: Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural de Arte e Cultura Brasileira. São Paulo: Itaú Cultural, 2022. Availbale at: Access on: Jan 28 2022. Entry from the Encyclopedia.

14    About the work of Francisco de Assis Cintra (1897-1953), who wrote several works on Brazilian history, see: Machado (2004). The Almanaque de Pelotas presents only the author’s name, and does not indicate if the text is part of one of the works published by him or if it is a summary of one of them.

15    Felipe Machado analyzes in his dissertation the views defended by in relation to Pedro Américo’s canvas, including addressing the painter’s explanations and the replicas of the historian. The author makes it clear, yet, that the discussion proposed by Cintra “made use of nineteenth century issues – and already forgotten – to build the history he wanted. An exaggerated realism would demystify the founding moment that was desired to be perpetuated as magical in the work of art. Cintra seeks to dismantle the key moment of "political emancipation” (Machado, 2004, p. 77).

16    According to Felipe Machado, Cintra, in the work Dom Pedro I e a Independência, informs that he could not “publish in a single book all the documents in his possession” (Machado, 2004, p. 19).

17    The author presents, in this chapter, a literature review on the process of political emancipation, addressing its respective interpretations, elaborating comments and developing relevant criticisms (Neves, 2009).

18    Lasteyrie du Saillant, Charles Philibert, comte de, 1759-1849. Salve! Querido brasileiro dia: 25 de março de 1824. Paris [França]: Lith. de Sennefelder, [1824?]. 1 grav, lithograv., pb, 50 x 36,2 cm a 50,3 cm on paper 63,5 x 83,7 cm a 51 x 58 cm (4 cópias). Available at: Access on: Jan 29 2022.

19    Cintra’s article was originally published in O Jornal, 3/2/1922, n. 933, p. 1. The Almanaque de Pelotas republished the text fully in the 1923 issue.

20    The following texts were also published: “Ou ficar a pátria livre...”, by Theodoro Magalhães; “O Fico”, by Amilcar Salgado dos Santos, and “Pedro I – jornalista”, with no author. In the article, only Fernando Osório Filho and Francisco Assis Cintra’s texts were selected because they allowed comparing the narrative about d. Pedro I. The other reproductions were: the canvas Aclamação de Sua Majestade d. Pedro I Imperador do Brasil, by the painter Felix Emile Taunay, photograph of the Monumento da Independência with the information that it still would be inaugurated in São Paulo, photograph of the façade of the Museu do Ipiranga, a print of the people cheering for dom Pedro I in Santana field, after the “Fico”, and a photograph of the equestrian statue of dom Pedro I located in Tiradentes Square, in Rio de Janeiro. These reproductions are not included in the article, since they are better known images.

Esta obra está licenciada com uma licença Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.