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Ferrez (Gilberto) collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical /Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Gilberto Ferrez collection of photographs of nineteenth-century Brazil
    Date (inclusive): 1860-1940
    Number: 92.R.14
    Creator/Collector: Ferrez, Gilberto
    Physical Description: 44.15 Linear Feet (35 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The collection comprises almost 1,000 photographic prints from the oeuvre of the Brazilian photographer Marc Ferrez, whose work encompassed a photographic vision of imperial and early modern Brazil, as well as approximately 775 photographic prints by photographers active in Brazil from 1860 to 1940. The photographers represented include J. S. Affonso; Carlos Bippus; Fritz Büsch; Companhia Photographica Brazileira; Guilherme Gaensly; Gaensley & Lindemann; João Goston; Pedros Hees; Alberto Henschel; Revert Henrique Klumb; George Leuzinger; Guilhermo Liebenau; Augusto Malta; Augusto Militaõ de Azevedo; Mortimer; Augusto Riedel; and Stahl & Wahnschaffe.
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    Language: Collection material is in Portuguese, French and English

    Biographical /Historical Note

    The Brazilian businessman, historian, curator, photographer and collector, Gilberto Ferrez, was born into a family immersed in the visual arts. His great grandfather and great uncle, the sculptors Zépherin and Marc Ferrez, arrived in Brazil with the Mission Artistique français in 1816. Greatly admiring the country, they settled there and Zépherin soon went on to design Brazil's first commemorative medal, commissioned for the 1822 coronation of Dom Pedro I. Gilberto's grandfather was the photographer Marc Ferrez; and his father, Júlio Ferrez, a film director and cinematographer, was also the Brazilian Pathé Frères representative, selling Pathé equipment and films and running the Pathé cinema in Rio de Janeiro. Together his grandfather, father and uncle Luciano used the Pathé connection to expand Marc's photography business into a firm encompassing both still and moving images.
    Gilberto João Carlos Ferrez (hereafter referred to as Gilberto so as to avoid confusion with other family members, who are also referred to by first name) was born in Rio de Janiero on May 15, 1908. He was schooled in Brazil and Europe before being sent in 1927, at age 19, to London by his father to study English for a year, as knowing the language was essential for working in the family's cinema business. He returned to Brazil in 1928 to join the family firm, then known as Marc Ferrez Filhos. Four years later, on 23 June 1932, he married Mary Jessop Cotching da Fonseca Dodd, with whom he had seven daughters (Denise, 1935; Mônica, 1936; Liliane, 1939; Mary, 1942; Isabel, 1945; and twins Irene and Helena, 1948). In 1938 Júlio Ferrez gave the firm, now renamed Marc Ferres Filhos Ltda., to his three sons Gilberto, Eduardo and João. João sold his share of the business to his two brothers in 1945 and in 1949 they renamed the firm Casa Marc Ferrez Cinemas, Electricidade Limitada. While Gilberto continued to be active in both the firm, which by then was investing in and building new movie theaters, and the profession, serving as chairman of the Cinematographic Distributor Companies Association in Rio de Janeiro from 1955 to 1974, he also developed and significantly expanded his photography, collecting, research, writing and curatorial interests.
    After returning from England in 1928 Gilberto had found a mentor in antiques dealer Francisco Marques de Santo, who introduced him to research in the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil. As a preservation move one of Marc Ferrez's old laboratory technicians copied all of Marc's negatives, and Gilberto began researching the photographs, dating them based on the buildings and monuments present in the images when Marc could not remember the exact shoot dates. From his grandfather's work, Gilberto expanded his interests to that of other photographers active in Brazil, and to Brazilian iconography in general. His research on Brazil led him to institutions in numerous European countries as well as to the United States. By 1935 he had also begun amassing a collection of photographs, coins, books, maps, prints, drawings and other visual materials and documents relating to Brazil.
    On August 2, 1930 Gilberto's first published photograph appeared in the "Fotografias de nossos leitores" section of O Cruzeiro, with three more photographs appearing in the magazine's pages the following year. Two years later, in 1932, Gilberto's first article, chronicling his exploration of Pico das Agulhas Negras, the fifth highest mountain in Brazil, and illustrated with his own photographs, was published in O Cruzeiro. Over the next years, following a trajectory begun by his grandfather's photography trips, he continued to travel and publish articles and photographs on the towns and regions of Brazil. Gilberto realized the first solo exhibition of his photographs, Paisagens Brasileiras, in 1933 at the Pró Arte Sociedade de Artes, Letras e Ciências, Rio de Janeiro.
    In 1941 Gilberto photographed the buildings of old Rio that were slated for demolition because they lay in the path of construction of the Avenida Presidente Vargas. His photographs of the lost São Pedro dos Clérigos church are among the few known views of this culturally and architecturally important structure. In counterpoint to his grandfather's interest in urban renewal, modernity and progress, as demonstrated by Marc's documentation of urban renewal projects such as the construction of Avenida Central between 1903 and 1906, to create a new, modern thoroughfare for the capital of Brazil, Gilberto's interests lay in the recording and preservation of urban history. But increasingly, rather than taking his own photographs to explore and record Brazil's built environment, Gilberto turned to research and writing about images created by others.
    Marc Ferrez's photographic corpus, along with Brazilian photography in general, were the natural places for Gilberto to concentrate his first efforts. His essay "A fotografia no Brasil e um seus mais dedicados servidores: Marc Ferrez" ("Photography in Brazil and One of its Most Devoted Servants: Marc Ferrez") was included in Revista do patrimônio histórico e artîstico , no. 10 (1946) under the shortened title "A fotografia no Brasil." Although the number did not appear until 1953, this article is considered to be the first study of the history of photography in Brazil. In fact, it was one of the earliest essays to have been written in the newly emerging field of the history of photography, being nearly contemporaneous with another pioneering work, Beaumont Newhall's more panoptic The History of Photography (1948). This article was followed by "Um passeio a Petrópolis em companhia do fótografo Marc Ferrez," for the 1948 edition of Anuário do Museu Imperial (printed 1951). Over three decades after its appearance Gilberto's pioneering first article was later expanded to book-length as A fotografia no Brazil: 1840-1900 (Rio de Janeiro, 1985), which was in turn translated as Photography in Brazil, 1840-1900 (Albuquerque, N.M., 1990).
    In 1976 Gilberto and Weston Naef co-curated the exhibition Pioneer Photographers of Brazil at the Center for Inter-American Relations in New York, and co-authored its accompanying catalog. The exhibition then traveled to the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MAM) and the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (MNBA) in Rio. Subsequent exhibitions for which Gilberto was responsible include his A fotografia no Brasil do século XIX: 150 anos do fotógrafo Marc Ferrez 1843/1993 (São Paulo, 1993).
    In addition to writing on photography, Gilberto also wrote on the iconography of urban Brazil during the colonial imperial and early republican periods, tracing the visual record found in such sources as lithographs, newspapers, maps, watercolors, paintings and photographs. Beginning in 1951 with studies of Pernambuco State in northeast Brazil, he eventually expanded his iconographical interests to cover most of the country's urban areas. In 1954 Gilberto mounted two exhibitions, Iconografia de Petrópolis e seus Arredores and Iconografia do Recife, Século XIX . His other important publications on urban iconography include his 1965 A muito leal e heróica cidade de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro: quatro séculos de expansão e evolução , celebrating the four-hundredth anniversary of Rio de Janeiro. Published just a few months after his death, Gilberto's two volume catalog of images, Iconografia do Rio de Janeiro, 1530-1890: catálogo analítico Rio de Janeiro (Casa Jorge Editorial, 2000), can be seen as the culmination of these studies.
    All told, in addition to his numerous exhibitions, Gilberto wrote around 40 books and articles on the twin areas of Brazilian urban iconography and photography. His books devoted to the depiction of Brazil in media other than photography include O velho Rio de Janeiro através das gravuras de Thomas Ender (1957) and Aquarelas de Richard Bate: O Rio de Janeiro de 1808-1848 (1965). Yet Gilberto's cultural studies were not confined to the built environment alone. In 1977 he wrote an expertise in support of the classification of Pão de Açúar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) as a national asset by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN). A vertical peak rising from the water's edge at the mouth of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, this prominent natural landmark, which had figured significantly in his grandfather's images of the city, was in danger of being chopped up and pulverized to make granite gravel.
    Gilberto was active in numerous learned and historical societies and councils including the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, where he held the office of treasurer from 1978 to 1981; the Conselho Municipal da Proteção do Patrimônio Cultural do Rio de Janeiro; the Hispanic Society of America; and the Instituto de Geografia e História Militar do Brasil. He served as an advisor to the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artîstico Nacional from 1958 until shortly before his death in 2000. In 1997 he received the Brazilian government's Medalha da ordem do Mérito Cultural.
    In 1995 Gilberto and Pedro Vasquez co-curated Mestres da Fotografia no Brasil: Coleção Gilberto Ferrez , an exhibition of selections from Gilberto's vast photography collection. Held at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, this was the last exhibition Gilberto organized. In 1998 the Instituto Moreira Salles acquired his collection of over 15,000 items, including the complete works of Marc Ferrez (5,500 prints and over 4,000 glass negatives) as well as significant holdings of other nineteenth-century Brazilian photographers such as Augusto Stahl, Revert Henry Klumb, George Leuzinger, Benjamin Mulock and Augusto Malta.
    Gilberto Ferrez died on 23 May 2000, in Rio de Janeiro.
    Sources consulted:
    Enciclopédia Itaú cultural de artes visuais, s.v. "Gilberto Ferrez," accessed July 6, 2016, http://enciclopedia.itaucultural.org.br/pessoa963/gilberto-ferrez.
    "Coleção Gilberto Ferrez," Instituto Moreira Salles, accessed July 6, 2016, http://ims.com.br/ims/explore/artista/gilberto-ferrez
    Adler, Fabio. "Brazil." In Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Photography , ed. John Hannavy. New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2008. 205-207.
    Peregrino, Júlia and Pedro Karp Vasquez. Família Ferrez: Novas revelações . Rio de Janeiro: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, 2008.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Gilberto Ferrez collection of photographs of nineteenth-century Brazil, 1860-1940, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 92.R.14.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1992.

    Processing History

    The collection was partially processed by Beth Ann Guynn, assisted by a work study student, in 1994, and a partial preliminary inventory was created. In 2016 Guynn and Linda Kleiger completed the processing and catalgoging and encoded the finding aid written by Guynn.

    Related Archival Materials

    The Coleção Gilberto Ferrez at the Instituto Moreira Salles, rio de Janeiro comprises 15,000 items including the complete works of Marc Ferrez (5,500 prints and over 4,000 glass negatives) as well as significant holdings of other nineteenth-century Brazilian photographers such as Augusto Stahl, Revert Henry Klumb, George Leuzinger, Benjamin Mulock and Augusto Malta.
    The Archivo Família Ferrez, an enormous collection of 40,000 family documents, photographs and other items maintained and expanded by Gilberto Ferrez, is held at in the Arquivo Nacional do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The present material represents a small selection from Gilberto Ferrez's vast collection of early Brazilian photography. A substantial selection of almost one thousand photographs by Gilberto's grandfather, Marc Ferrez, comprises Series I. The somewhat smaller Series II, comprises approximately 775 photographs by other photographers active in Brazil from 1860 to 1940.
    Series I encapsulates Marc Ferrez's photographic output. Brazilian states represented include Bahia; Rio de Janeiro; Minas Gerais; and São Paulo. Following the general breakdown of his oeuvre, roughly half of the images depict the state and city of Rio de Janeiro and half depict the remaining states listed above. The states, in turn, are organized by city or town. Present are landscapes; seascapes and harbors; general city views and panoramas; streets and street scenes; and views and details of individual buildings.
    In the state of Rio de Janeiro, the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Petrópolis are particularly well represented. Ferrez turned his camera repeatedly to Guanabara Bay and Pão de Açúcar, or Sugar Loaf Mountain, jutting straight up out of the mouth of the bay. His panoramic views of the city, the bay and its beaches were taken from vantage points around the city including Pão de Açúcar and Corcovado mountain which overlooks the city from the west. In addition to both sweeping and detailed views of Avenida Central (including later views showing Ferrez's own Cinema Pathé), Rio's major streets and attendant plazas are systematically recorded. While many photographs were made to capture the city's remaining colonial buildings and monuments, often shortly before demolition, others show off its modern Belle Époque facades. For example, photographs of both the old French neoclassical style Belas Artes building and the new Belle Époque building can be found in this series. A small number of photographs document events in Rio, notably the 1893 rebellion.
    The remainder of the series is organized thematically: rural and agricultural subjects, especially depicting coffee picking; boats and ships; ethnographic subjects, including his famous early portraits of Brazilian Indians and occupational portraits and street vendors; and railroads, with some obvious geographical cross-overs with the individual states and cities.
    Series II contains approximately 775 photographs by photographers active in Brazil from 1860 to 1940. The series comprises a mixture of vintage photographs, modern copy prints and a few photograph albums.
    Photographers and studios represented include J. S. Affonso; Carlos Bippus; Fritz Büsch; Companhia Photographica Brazileira; Guilherme Gaensly; Gaensley & Lindemann; João Goston; Pedros Hees; Alberto Henschel; Revert Henrique Klumb; George Leuzinger; Guilhermo Liebenau; Augusto Malta; Augusto Militaõ de Azevedo; Mortimer; Augusto Riedel; and Stahl & Wahnschaffe.
    The largest group of photographs is by Malta, comprising aproximately 250 vintage prints and an additional box of 46 modern copy prints. Malta's photographs of Belle Époque Rio provide a good counterpoint to Ferrez's documentation of the city. He recorded the Ajuda Convent in 1911, which had survived the initial building phase of Avenida Rio Branco and the remodeling of the square in front of it, renamed Praça Floriano Peixoto, just before it was demolished to make way for Spanish developer Francisco Serrador's Beaux-Arts-style buildings that housed the city's new cinemas. Also included among Malta's photographs are images of Brazil's Exposiçao Nacional de 1908 and its Exposiçao do Centenario (1922-1923).
    There are 26 photographs by Gaensly and 33 by Gaensly & Lindemann. Leuzinger holdings include an album of 56 prints entitled Photographies de Rio de Janeiro et des environs ; 42 photographs that are either loose prints or mounted on disbound album pages; and an annotated sales catalog, probably dating from 1864 or 1865. The album Vistas, containing 33 cabinet card views of Petrópolis, along with three additional views, is by Klumb. The third album present in the series, Album de Vistas de Porto Alegre , by Ferrari & Irmão, contains 14 prints. Azevedo is represented by 23 prints, and Bippus by 19 prints. The remainder of the photographers included in the series are represented by ten or fewer images.
    Also included in the series is a box of almost 200 modern copy prints of South American views held in the Biblioteca Nacional de Venezuela, Caracas. Photographers and studios of note include: Samuel Boote and Benito Panuzi (Argentina); Chaigneau y Lavoisier and C. L. Howsell (Chile); Angel Mental (Cuba); Eugenio Courret and Courret Hermanos (Peru); Pedro Amante; Bate and Company; and Charles Wallace Chute and Thomas Brooks (Uruguay); and Underwood & Underwood and the Keystone View Company (various countries). At the end of the series are found thirteen exhibition catalogues for the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes from the years between 1860 and 1884.


    Arranged in two series: and Series I. Marc Ferrez photographs, 1860-1919, undated; Series II. Other photographers, 1860-1940, undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Affonso, J. S.
    Ferrari, Carlos
    Henschel, Alberto, 1827-1882
    Hees, Pedro, 1841-1880
    Riedel, Augusto, 1836-ca. 1877
    Militão de Azevedo, Augusto, 1837-1902
    Ferrez, Marc
    Büsch, Fritz
    Goston, João, d. 1882
    Gaensly, Guilherme
    Leuzinger, George
    Malta, Augusto
    Klumb, R. H. (Revert Henry)
    Liebenau, Guilhermo

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Exposição Nacional do Brasil--(Rio de Janiero, Brasil)
    Exposição do Centenario do Brasil--(1922-1923 : Rio de Janiero, Brazil)
    Academia Imperial das Bellas Artes (Brazil)
    Stahl & Wahnschaffe
    Companhia Photographica Brazileira
    Estúdio Gaensly & Lindemann
    Ferrari & Irmão

    Subjects - Topics

    Railroads -- Brazil
    Ships -- Brazil
    Agriculture -- Brazil
    Mines and mineral resources -- Brazil
    Beaches -- Brazil -- Rio de Janeiro
    Beaches -- Brazil -- Rio de Janeiro
    Plazas -- Brazil
    Urban renewal -- Brazil -- Rio de Janeiro
    Motion picture theaters -- Brazil -- Rio de Janeiro
    Streets -- Brazil
    Architecture -- Brazil
    Coffee plantations -- Brazil
    Indians of South America -- Brazil

    Subjects - Places

    Sugar Loaf Mountain (Brazil) -- Description and travel
    Petrópolis (Brazil) -- Description and travel
    Guanabara Bay (Brazil) -- Description and travel
    Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) -- Description and travel
    Rio de Janeiro (Brazil : State) -- Description and travel
    São Paulo (Brazil : State) -- Description and travel
    Bahia (Brazil : State) -- Description and travel
    Minas Gerais (Brazil) -- Description and travel
    Cinelândia (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) -- Description and travel
    Rio de Janeiro (Brazil : State) -- Description and travel

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Panoramas -- Brazil -- 20th century
    Gelatin silver prints -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Copy prints -- Brazil -- 20th century
    Albumen prints -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Gelatin silver prints -- Brazil -- 20th century
    Cartes-de-visite (card photographs) -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Cabinet photographs -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Collotypes (prints) -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Photographs, Original
    Photograph albums -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Platinum prints -- Brazil -- 19th century
    Platinum prints -- Brazil -- 20th century
    Panoramas -- Brazil -- 19th century


    Ferrez, Gilberto
    Bippus, Carlos