English Cemetery in Rio

This painting by Maria Graham shows the English Graveyard in Rio de Janeiro. It was sketched in 1824 and serves as a reminder of the number of British soldiers and sailors who served in the various revolutionary and independence wars of the first decades of the Nineteenth Century.

Maria Graham herself was an admiral's daughter. She was one of those independent women who continually crop up in the history of the Empire. She married Captain Thomas Graham in 1809 and accompanied him on his voyages all over the world. When he died off Cape Horn in 1822, she made her home in South America for the next few years. She kept journals in which she discussed the politics and personalities of those engaged in the independence struggles against Spain and Portugal rather than, as was more usual for a woman in those times, the gossip of everyday life. The journals, which caused quite a furore when they were published, were illustrated with etchings made from her paintings.

South America

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by Stephen Luscombe