The Italian Costumes Study by Victor Meirelles

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This article analyzes twenty-one works belonging to the collection “The Italian Costumes,” made by Victor Meirelles in Italy between 1853 and 1856 and preserved in the museum named after the artist in Florianopolis, Brazil. The analysis focused on the identification of the common components of the works in terms of six aspects: ambience, position, body, costumes, colors, and shapes. In this article, only the first two aspects are addressed. The traces that indicate some of the artist’s motivation when producing the collection are highlighted: the conjectural, which is linked to the sale of engravings of regional human types in Italy in the nineteenth century; the structural, or the education offered during the artist’s era; and the ideological, including national and romantic propositions, biased toward the Nazarene movement. From the analysis of ambience and position, two hypotheses are discussed to demonstrate that the collection is not only focused on the improvement of the drapery technique but also a source of income and inspiration for Victor Meirelles that defined his poetics during his life. The divulgation of the results also aims to methodize the collection’s knowledge and encourage deeper studies of the same or similar collections. Future work is justified and important, given the fact that the current research is the only work of this magnitude about the Italian Costumes collection.