Since their arrival in Rio de Janeiro in 1816, members of the Taunay family were immersed in political and cultural projects financed by the Portuguese monarchy and, after the country’s Independence, by the elite of the Brazilian Empire.
During the government of King D. João VI, Nicolas-Antoine Taunay contributed to the organization of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, created in 1820. His son, Félix Émile (1785-1881) became one of the most important painting teachers in the 19th century Brazil and helped to transform the institution set up by his father into the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts.
Charles Auguste, who was Nicolas’ son and Félix’s brother, built a military career and administered the coffee farm kept by the family in the area of Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. He wrote an interesting treatise on how to manage a slave farm at that time.
Linked to the process of shaping the Empire and the monarchy in the country, the Taunays had their lives intertwined with politics and with remarkable episodes of the first and second reigns. One of Felix Émile’s sons, Alfredo d'Escragnolle Taunay, the Viscount of Taunay (1843-1899), was a military man, the president of provinces, a senator and the writer of renowned works such as “A retirada da laguna” (1871) and the novel “Inocência” (1872). A steadfast monarchist, even after the proclamation of the Republic, the Viscount helped to create the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL). One of his sons, Afonso d’Escragnolle Taunay (1876-1958) is considered to have been one of the most important Brazilian historians in the 1920s and 1930s. He was also a member of the Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute (IHGB) and the São Paulo Historical and Geographical Institute (IHGSP), as well as a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and the director of the Museu Paulista for 28 years.