Théodore Valério (1819-1879)

Gypsy slave

French painter, engraver and lithographer Théodore Valério started to work and set up shows quite early. Between 1840 and 1850, he created in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and then traveled to Hungary and the neighboring countries, including the Romanian principalities. In the works inspired from his trips to Central and Eastern Europe, Valério tried to give faithful renderings of the people, places and customs of the countries visited. Like most of the foreign travelers to the Romanian lands, Théodore Valério could not fail to observe the Roma, especially as the period of his visit coincided with a most effervescent activity for the abolishment of the Roma's slavery. Théodore Valério's work Gypsy Slave mirrors the solidarity of the westerners, then in the Romanian principalities, who militated for the abolishment of Roma slavery. Among these militants we mention Emile Kohly of Guggsberg and Count d' Hauterive. As the documents of the time prove, the Roma owe their release from slavery to the actions and pressure of westerners more than to the reform-mindedness of the Romanian society. The Roma Study Center, the History Faculty of the University of Bucharest

by Petre Florin Manole