American Ethnologist

The banana emperor: D. Pedro II in Brazilian caricatures, 1842–89



Visual caricatures were important in the political, social, and cultural context of the Second Brazilian Reign (1842–89). With Pedro II as a central figure in the monarchy, most satirical artists concentrated on attacking his public image. Nevertheless, the results were always ambivalent. On the one hand, caricatures showed the monarchy becoming weaker and weaker throughout the period, and, in fact, it ended the year after the abolition of slavery in 1888. On the other hand, they transformed Pedro II into a kind of “good father” and increased his popularity. Images are central in understanding the regime: Sometimes, it is hard to say if they were consequences or causes, if they reflected, were part of, or were even the origin of the events of the day.