The Emperor's collection: foreign and Brazilian photography in the XIX century
Documentary heritage submitted by Brazil and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2003.
This is a unique collection of nineteenth-century photographs, assembled by one individual throughout his lifetime and deposited in a national library where it is kept and every effort is being made to preserve it. It is the largest collection of photographs in Latin America: an accurate portrait of the nineteenth century, reflecting customs, intellectual and industrial developments at the time it was put together. The collection has remained intact throughout its existence. It is the Thereza Christina Maria photograph collection: 21,742 photos left to the National Library of Brazil by Emperor Pedro II in 1891. The collection is made up of photographs of different types and formats.
It took some 50 years to build a genuine contribution to the study of nineteenth-century customs and life in several parts of the world. With regard to the history of photography the collection includes works by the first photographers in the world. In this respect, its originality is priceless.
The collection is housed in the National Library of Brazil and forms part of the history of the Brazilian people, whose changing circumstances throughout the nineteenth century it reflects.
Its unique historical value has been recognized through the major exhibitions of photographs from the collection held in Lisbon, Porto and Buenos Aires. These exhibitions have had a tremendous effect; other countries including France and the United States have already expressed their interest in the collection and, in particular, the prospect of hosting it.