Do you want to be in the middle of fantastic vegetation? Come to the Palace of Brazil.
In March 1887, several Paris newspapers announced that M. de Santa-Anna Néry was travelling through Brazil, forming committees and collecting memberships for the Universal Exhibition in Paris.
In Para, in fact, he had held a meeting in the palace of the president of the province, attended by the main figures of the city, headed by the bishop, Mgr de Macédo, count of Bélem, a former student of the seminary of Saint-Sulpice.
The participation of the province was decided immediately. The same success crowned the efforts of M. de Santa-Anna Néry in several other cities of the Brazilian empire.
At that time, Emperor Dom Pedro II was in Europe. A Franco-Brazilian committee was set up here in March 1888, and from the outset it was composed of a number of prominent figures from the Brazilian colony and some Frenchmen who had business dealings with Brazil, headed by the presidents of the Chambre syndicale des négociants-commissionnaires and the Chambre de commerce d'exportation, Messrs de Lourdelet and Pector.
Mr. Viscount de Cavalcanti, senator and former minister of state in Brazil, took charge of going to Cannes where Dom Pedro II was, and the Emperor not only gave his support, but also wrote an autograph letter to Mr. Georges Berger, recommending the promoters of the idea to his benevolence. He is the only sovereign to have done this.
The committee, having formed its bureau, set to work.
Everything went well. In Rio de Janeiro, the Chambers voted a credit of nearly eight hundred thousand francs; in Bahia, the province granted fifty thousand francs; in Minas-Geraes, one hundred thousand, etc.
A competition was opened in Paris for the construction of the Brazilian palace and Mr. Louis Dauvergne, expert architect at the Seine Prefecture Council, was chosen to execute the winning plan.
Before appearing on the Champ de Mars, the products underwent an exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, opened by the Emperor.
The Brazilian section, which is located on the right, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, occupies a total area of almost 1,200 square metres, of which only 400 metres are covered by the pavilion.
The pavilion consists of three floors of galleries surrounding an atrium. This part of the building is topped by a glass dome decorated with a velum.
A square tower, about 40 metres high, contains the staircase to the galleries on the first and second floors.
A smaller staircase leads up to the tower's campanile and the terrace that supports it.
On the ground floor, a committee room with a small gallery serving as an anteroom is attached to the building. The parquet floor of this room is made of Brazilian wood marquetry executed in Rio itself.
On the second floor, a terrace covered by a banner allows a view of the Champ de Mars and its palaces.
The decoration consists of six statues representing the six main rivers of Brazil, with plants and shrubs growing on their banks as attributes, and various architectural motifs, prows of ships, heads, consoles, etc.
Decorative earthenware also decorates the surrounds of the large bays of the façades. The coats of arms of the various provinces are painted on the cartouches above the pylons, and the central motif of the façade is crowned by the sphere that appears on the Brazilian flag.
Inside, the iron construction is visible. The dome, pendentives, cornice friezes, soffits and ceilings are decorated with garlands and bouquets painted in monochrome on a gold background.
An openwork iron gallery connects the pavilion to the greenhouse and is decorated with artistic earthenware vases.
The greenhouse contains collections of Brazilian plants, which are always in bloom. On the outside, the greenhouse is decorated with gold-painted and re-painted artistic zincs. Inside, decorative panels by Mr. Lippmann. Inside, two caimans sculpted by M. Gilbert.
The grotto and the gardens around the Pavilion and its annexes are also furnished with plants and shrubs from Brazil: palms, orchids, etc.
The samples exhibited have a market value of nearly 400,000 francs, and the Committee has made an agreement with the International Horticultural Society of Brussels for the upkeep of the greenhouse, where, for the duration of the Exhibition, the rarest orchids will be in bloom, replaced as often as necessary.
A basin, whose water is maintained at a constant temperature of 30 degrees by a special heating system, contains the "Victoria Régia" of the Amazon. It is known that this magnificent aquatic plant reaches incredible proportions and that it can easily carry a small child on one of its large white leaves to which the natives give the name of "benches of the Uanapés".
We must also mention a graceful "tasting pavilion" for the consumption of Brazilian products, such as coffee, mate, tafia, fruit liqueurs, etc.; and finally a "palace of the Amazon" situated in the part of the Champ de Mars assigned by Mr. Charles Garnier to the history of human habitation, and containing the ceramic vases and urns of the natives of the island of Marajô, an island as large as Portugal and which is situated at the mouth of the gigantic Amazon. These marvellous specimens of the primitive art of the ancient potters of the Amazon were brought to France by the director of the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Ladislas Netto.
The Brazilian section has more than 1,600 exhibitors and gives a sufficient idea of the resources of the great South American empire.
© Guide Bleu du Figaro et du Petit Journal 1889