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24 March 2017 News flash

Hercule Florence. The New Robinson - Nouveau Musée National de Monaco

©Direction de la Communication / Charly Gallo

The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM)’s Villa Paloma is hosting a public exhibition dedicated to the genius Monegasque-Brazilian jack-of-all-trades Hercule Florence (1804–1879). It took the NMNM team six years to carry out the research needed to stage the exhibition.

Hercule Florence’s life was truly that of an adventurer: having left Europe in 1824, he arrived in Brazil where he would spend the rest of his life. This exhibition traces three major aspects of his life and career:

-          His involvement in the Langsdorff Expedition, financed by Tsar Alexander I, to explore Mato Grosso. Florence participated as an illustrator and cartographer. His sketches of the natural environment and indigenous tribes constitute a valuable ethnographic record and were produced in parallel with his research in the field of printing. Also worthy of note is a room devoted to his invention of “Zoophonia”, a system for the musical notation of bird song, which laid the foundation for bioacoustics.

-          His research into document reproduction (Florence was preoccupied with the possibility of printing at low cost using light equipment), the invention of “papier inimitable”, a water-marked paper that would go on to become paper currency, and initial research using silver nitrates, making him one of the pioneers of photography (he was also the first to use the word ‘photographie’ in writing in October 1833).

-          Studies of the sky, aimed at young landscape painters; sketches representing the various types of light in the Brazilian sky.

In parallel, contemporary artists including Linda Fregni Nagler, Lucia Koch, Jochen Lempert, Leticia Ramos and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, working on similar themes, have been invited to present works for this exhibition which echo those of Florence.

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