Irineu Evangelista de Souza, Visconde de Mauá, (1813 – 1889) received the lands around Visconde de Mauá as a concession from the Imperial Government of Brazil, but apparently never visited the place himself. His son Henrique installed the first colony, of mainly German and Swiss farmers, and named it after his father. The name of Visconde de Mauá is naturally quite familiar to the inhabitants and the many tourists who come here, but the personal appearance of the Visconde is not … or at least it wasn’t until now.
The Visconde de Mauá was the most successful and celebrated businessman, banker and civil-engineering entrepreneur during the latter part of the Empire, but his powerful position did not endear him to the Emperor, Dom Pedro II. Even his title was less than complimentary, since Mauá is not one of the prettiest neighbourhoods in Rio.
At one point the Visconde sent a beautiful wheel barrow made of Jacaranda and a silver spade as a present to the Emperor, to remind him of ‘the value of sweated labour’ (see detail below). After the declaration of the Republic, Dom Pedro II went into exile and died at the Hotel Bristol in Paris, lying on a pillow filled with Brazilian soil. Could it be that he used the silver spade to fill the pillow himself? One wonders.
This mural was painted by us in 2012 on the end wall of the ‘Aldeia dos Imigrantes’ shopping centre in Visconde de Mauá. We did an earlier version of the mural on the same wall, without the portrait of the Viscount, in 1996.
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