The purpose of this research project is to investigate and clarify fundamental matters pertaining to the creation, circulation, and critical fortune regarding the oil painting entitled Independencia ou Morte [Independence or Death], by Brazilian artist Pedro Américo de Figueiredo e Mello. Painted in Florence, in 1888, its dimensions reach 415 x 760 cm and it currently resides in the Hall of Honor of the Museu Paulista of the University of São Paulo. It is one of the most celebrated works of this notorious painter and its representation has helped erect the social imaginary surrounding Brazilian independence. Many studies focused on Pedro Américo and this work of art, but it is vital to deepen our understanding of its production in Italy and fill in the existing gaps regarding its circulation prior to its installation in the Monument to the Independence (today Museu Paulista). This project intends to analyze the models which served as reference for the artist to devise his painting and its potential connections with the European art production of the time, especially in Italy and France. It also intends to study the painting's critical reception within the exhibitions it was displayed at, and how it was depicted by foreign newspapers and magazines of this period.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: