#26 Laranjeiras Valley near Sebastianopolis, the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Latin translation by Ben Hennelly
This picture too is owed to the skilled hand of Thomas Ender, my dear friend and companion, who sketched it at the site itself. It was chosen not so much because it seems to depict especially well the plant life of the location, as because it enables you to carefully inspect the outlines and shapes of the great Monte Corcovado, and to peer into, as it were, the valleys and defiles into which that ridge magnificently erected from masses of granite, lord of the entire suburban province, is sundered and lowered; at the same time, I refer the reader back to what was said about Corcovado in the commentaries on etching #19 and 20.
When you have proceeded southward from the center of Sebastianopolis along the seashore, beyond the lovely hill adorned with the church of Nossa Senhora da Gloria you will come to the suburb Catete. Descending from the west from Mt. Corcovado, the exceedingly lovely Laranjeiras Valley comes down to meet this road, which is marked by many pleasant country-houses and gardens; you see the upper part of Laranjeiras here. In 1817, when the picture was sketched, only a few houses or gardens occupied this valley.
Most of all, black women busied themselves in number there, washing their clothes, whitened with mule dung, in the fresh water of the river Ribeirao de Catete; even still they followed the ways and customs of their homeland, so that they offered a visitor a living picture of how African women behave. Now that the number of inhabitants has grown, things are different. As my good friend Dr. Stephan has informed me, small holdings, called chacaras have been built up with very lovely country-houses. Where a group of women has taken a seat on the right side of the picture under the shadow of a wall, a large house now stands, and the valley's plain has been transformed into a spacious open area, with a happily leaping spring, or Chafariz do Machado in the middle, whose basin is made of fine-grained granite from the neighboring hills, thoroughly polished. The house visible in the elevated location is now a school founded by a British teacher, many of which flourish in the city.
The sides of the valley, at that time covered with shrubs and low growing forest, have now for the most part been converted into meadows, which produce the grass Capim needed to feed horses, or into gardens or coffee nurseries. But the aged granite rocks powerfully resist human cultivation, and have only yielded a little through the labor of workmen, so that thus far they give room in their flat, sunlit spaces to many very beautiful Nopaleae, where they put forth bright, though quickly wilting flowers, or they admit tufts of Peperomia incana, which I first here collected for myself. On the other hand, the moist, shaded spaces among the rocks offer the botanist an abundance of mosses, hepatic mosses, ferns and several pleasantly flowering Gesneraceae. Higher up, on the steep promontories of Corcovado, thrives a low-growing, dense forest or thicket, which grows and increases the farther you pass beyond the narrow passages to the body proper of the ridge. Here too the rock, which lower down was granite or foliaceous granite of a fine grain, changes into a red, coarse-grained granite noteworthy for the crystals of feldspar it contains.
The two trees that the artist has portrayed on the left are Carioca Papaya, which has been disseminated by cultivation throughout all of tropical America, and Guarea purgans St. Hil., which the indigenous call Jito; its bark, which possesses a purgative force, seems in places to be used in household medicine.
Etching commentary #26