The Institute Hercule Florence for the Studies of the Brazilian XIX Century Society and Environment, was established in 2006 as a result of interest in the life and work of the inciting figure who lent us his name. The IHF was created out of a desire to collect, preserve, and communicate all of the information that is known about this French-Monegasque artist, inventor, and traveler who settled in Brazil in 1824, had a large family, conducted research that eventually led to the discovery of photography, and lived there until his death in 1879.
The institute soon expanded its activities to reflect on and publicize the Brazil of the 1800s, a route taken by European travelers who chose the relationship between man and nature as an object of scientific research and artistic inspiration. This tribute was inspired by our founder Antonio Florence’s admiration for his great-great-grandfather’s biography and accomplishments.
To preserve and disseminate the life and work of Hercule Florence and of 19th century Brazil. To encourage historical reflection in order to better understand the present.
As a result of this broader vision, the institute’s purpose is to research, preserve, and disseminate textual, iconographic, and photographic documents related to Brazil’s 19th century – the period in which Brazil was founded and began to consolidate as an independent nation. Preserving this past, reflecting on it, and producing knowledge from it is a way of contributing to the understanding of the present.
Over the years, the IHF has gathered a collection of more than 10,000 items. Among the most outstanding ones is the collection of 2,000 documents related to the life of Hercule Florence (1804–1879), preserved by Arnaldo Machado Florence, Hercule’s great-grandson and one of the first researchers and disseminators of his work. The arrival of this collection at the IHF in 2010 represented a milestone, as it was the first time that original manuscripts of the artist and inventor became part of the collection.
To be a reference in the articulation of information and an accessible and reliable source about Hercule Florence and 1800’s Brazil.
One of the main initiatives of the IHF in recent years was the publication of a printed and bound edition of Hercule Florence’s complete manuscript L'Ami des Arts livré à lui-même [The Friend of the Arts left to his own devices], which includes his autobiography, a list of his inventions, and the final version of the account of the Langsdorff Expedition (1825-1829), in which he took part as a draftsman, shortly after arriving in Brazil at the age of 20. This first publishing initiative involved the steps of restoration, digitalization, transcription, translation, and publication of facsimiles of the 423-page manuscript, edited in its entirety for the first time. The digitized work is available to the public and other institutions on the IHF website.
Another example of the Institute’s work is the creation of an interactive map using the Google Earth platform that shows the route of the expedition and contains extracts and photographs from this report. Finally, it is worth mentioning the exhibition O olhar de Hercule Florence sobre os Índios Brasileiros [Hercule Florence’s gaze on the Brazilian Indians], which presented books, drawings, photographs, and archaeological objects related to the expedition, which was first held in 2015 at the Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin, in São Paulo.
These actions demonstrate how the IHF has performed in preserving and disseminating key records for understanding the 19th century, reaffirming our willingness to collaborate with other organizations and our dedication to bringing memory together as well as preserving, studying, and disseminating it to the present and the future.