Signed and dated lower right: George Thomas, 2020
Oil on Linen, 205 x 165 cm / 80.7" x 65"
In the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes I came across a painting called Iracema (Jose Maria de Medeiros, 1881). It was inspired by the novel of the same title by José de Alencar whose work came out of the Indianismo literary movement. He told stories of indigenous people and cultures against the backdrop of a colonial Brazil. His earlier novel, O Guarani (1857), inspired this painting. It follows the adventures of Peri, a member of the Guarani tribe battling for the hand of his beloved Ceci, as the war between the indigenous peoples and settlers burns on.
The novel was turned into a successful opera “Il Guarany” by Carlos Gomes (1871). The work is considered a classic of Brazilian literature and is still read in schools to this day.
The scene depicts the moment when Peri rescues Ceci from a fire in the middle of the night. The snake and jaguar represent temptation and danger, themes that are interwoven throughout the narrative.