Imbued with the romantic spirit of the mid-19th century, Eduard Hildebrandt traveled to Brazil in 1844 with the support of King Frederick William IV of Prussia; support that Alexander Humboldt had secured for this young, well-educated German painter. Among the European artists who traveled to Brazil in the 19th century, Hildebrandt is considered one of those who best captured the essence of tropical light.
This oil painting represents the natural landscape of Rio de Janeiro’s outlying areas. Rodrigo de Freitas Lake can be seen, surrounded by the typical hills of the zone, including, to the left of the background, the one known as Pedra de Gávea, so called for its resemblance to the topsail of old caravels.
In the middle of the composition is an indigenous couple who, since they are surrounded by the intense light of the sun and shown in contrast to it, can hardly be distinguished. However, they preside symbolically over the imposing Rio landscape, which seems virginal and Eden-like in the artist’s depiction. Bathed in the light of dusk, water and vegetation, humankind and nature are enveloped in a nostalgic and luminous atmosphere of intense golden tones, in which reality and fiction, paradise and utopia, are indistinguishable.