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Thomas Ender (1793–1875), Austria
Rio de Janeiro—View of the Neighborhood of Engenho Velho, Drawn from the Austrian Embassy
, 1817–18
Watercolor on paper
Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros

Austria sent its first South American scientific expedition to Brazil in 1817. It included artist Thomas Ender, German botanist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794–1868), and German zoologist Johann Baptist von Spix (1781–1826). Their task—to document the biodiversity of the Brazilian landscape—held political import because Austrian interests were meant to be secured by the marriage of the Archduchess Maria Leopoldina to Portuguese prince Pedro de Braganza. Despite Ender’s poor health, which forced him to leave Brazil after a few months, he produced over two hundred watercolors—including Rio de Janeiro—that document the expedition’s journey across the Atlantic and through the coastal regions of Brazil. Von Martius’s Genera et species palmarum (Genera and Species of Palms; [Munich: Leutner, 1823]), part of a three-volume book, features the four hundred plants discovered during the expedition.

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