After working in St. Helena (1805-10) and the Cape (1810-15) the botanist, traveller and artist William Burchell returned to England, publishing his Travels in the Interior of South Africa in London, 1822-24, before joining Sir Charles Stuart's mission to Rio de Janeiro in 1825. Stuart (whose mission was to negotiate recognition of Brazilian independence) arrived in Rio on July 18, 1825 with his small retinue which included the artist Charles Landseer. Burchell stayed in Rio from July 1825 until September 1826 before travelling more widely in Brazil and returning to England in 1830. His work in Brazil was never published but his nine volume classification of Brazilian plants (Catalogus Iconographicus Brasiliensis) is in the Herbarium at Kew and 260 Brazilian drawings including 40 taken at Rio are now in the MuseumAfrica, Johannesburg. For these Brazilian drawings see R.F. Kennedy, Catalogue of Pictures in the Africana Museum, Johannesburg, 1971, VI, Supplement A-G, B 2131-B2351 and G. Ferrez, O Brazil do Primeiro Reinado visto pelo botânico William John Burchell 1825/1829, Rio de Janeiro, 1981.
The present drawing, numbered '99', clearly originates from the sketchbook now in the MuseumAfrica which includes Burchell's immediately preceding (98 The English Cemetery 22.7.26) and following (100 A Jetty 24.7.26) drawings (Kennedy B2199 and B2200) and the present view appears to be taken in the opposite direction to the drawing made two days later (101 Houses on the Waterfront 24.7.26, Kennedy B2201) identified as the Praia Formosa by Ferrez ('A pencil sketch showing the houses of Formosa beach [which] has a great iconographic value as it is the only one known of this district').