Nair de Tefé

Nair de Tefé
Nair de Tefé von Hoonholtz

Nair de Tefé being painted by Guirand de Scevola
Born June 10, 1886(1886-06-10)
Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro
Died June 10, 1981(1981-06-10)
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
Occupation First Lady of Brazil
Predecessor Orsina Francisca da Fonseca
Successor Maria Carneiro Pereira Gomes
Spouse Hermes da Fonseca

Nair de Tefé von Hoonholtz, also known as Nair de Tefé, (June 10, 1886 – June 10, 1981) was Brazil's first female cartoonist, as well as a painter, singer and pianist.

Born in Petrópolis, Nair de Tefé was an aristocratic and noble lady of the Brazilian society. Daughter of the diplomat Antônio Luís von Hoonholtz, baron of Tefé and granddaughter of the Prussian military Frederico Guiherme von Hoonholtz. As a girl, she studied in Paris and Nice. In 1909, she published her first work in Fon-Fon magazine, under the pseudonym of Rian ("Nair" backwards). Her caricatures were also published in, among others, the magazines O Binóculo, A Careta, O Malho, as well as the newspapers Gazeta de Notícias and Gazeta de Petrópolis. She had an agile hand which transmitted people's characters quite well.

She stopped working as a cartoonist in 1913 when she married Brazilian president Hermes Rodrigues da Fonseca.

Nair de Tefé was a woman ahead of her time. As First Lady she hosted soirées in Catete Palace which became famous for introducing the guitar in society salons.

Caricature of Afonso Celso by "Rian" (Nair de Tefé), 1914.

In 1914, Nair de Tefé organized a recital to launch Corta Jaca, a maxixe composed by Chiquinha Gonzaga. The following day, controversy and criticism developed because the presidential palace had promoted and disseminated music that had its roots in what the social elite believed were lascivious and vulgar dances. Bringing popular music to the presidential palace was considered at the time to be a breach of protocol, causing controversy in the highest ranks of Brazilian society and politics. Ruy Barbosa had strong criticism about the wife of the president.

After the presidential mandate ended, she moved to Europe. In 1921 she returned to Brazil and in 1922, participated of the Modern Art Week. Began to participate in Brazilian Academies(organizations) of art and in 1932 she founded a theater, Cinema Rian, which had a privileged locate (facing the sea of Copacabana: Photo of the theater Cinema Rian). After, Nair started play in casinos and lost a great part of her fortune and a island in the coastline of Angra dos Reis.

In 1959, at the age of 73, Nair de Tefé resumed making caricatures. In the late 1970s, she still participated in commemorations of International Women's Day. She died in Rio de Janeiro on her 95th birthday.

Biographical reference

  • (Portuguese) Rodrigues, Antonio Edmilson Martins. Nair de Teffé: vidas cruzadas. Rio de Janeiro: Editora FGV, 2002. ISBN 85-225-0389-3

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