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Category: Art + Architecture

530. giulio monteverde

Giulio Monteverde

Many upper-class Argentine families were proud of their Italian heritage, so quite a bit of Italian art can be found in Recoleta Cemetery. Born in a small town in Piemonte in 1837, Giulio Monteverde moved with his family to Genoa & began his artistic career there at the age of nine. A very young apprentice! Later he studied in Rome & eventually became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. By the 1870s, Monteverde drew critical acclaim for his statue of a young Christopher Columbus & a work titled The Genius of Franklin… a young angel holding a lightning rod.

Monteverde indirectly influenced Recoleta Cemetery by teaching two famous sculptors who would leave works inside: Victor de Pol & Lola Mora. But he would also leave one piece of his own. When the entrance gate of Recoleta Cemetery was enlarged in 1881, architect Juan Buschiazzo incorporated a chapel for families to hold a final service. Who better to decorate that chapel than the famous Monteverde? His crucifixion statue is often missed since visitors rarely stop inside. Take a moment to appreciate this wonderful work of art:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrada, capilla, Giulio Monteverde

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrada, capilla, Giulio Monteverde

Monteverde also made one of the most recognized pieces of funerary art for the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in 1882 (first photo below). Often referred to as the Angel of Death or the Angel of Resurrection, a copy exists in Recoleta Cemetery on the Llambi Campbell family vault (second photo below):

Cemetery, Staglieno, Giulio Monteverde

Recoleta Cemetery, Llambi Campbell

He was also hired to produce a monument for the city of Buenos Aires dedicated to Giuseppe Mazzini, who fought for the unification of Italy & popular democracy. The 1879 statue can be found in Plaza Roma:

Buenos Aires, Plaza Roma, Giuseppe Mazzini, Giulio Monteverde

Monteverde passed away in 1917, leaving behind a legacy of art & beauty. Most of the plaster studies for his sculptures can be found today in the Gipsoteca Monteverde in his birthplace of Bistagno.

Portrait & Staglieno photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Mazzini photo courtesy of Centro Virtual de Arte Argentino.

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let us show you around…

Endless Mile, Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery guide

The list of occupants of Recoleta Cemetery reads like a Who’s Who of Argentine history & society. The elite, an aspiring middle class, friends, enemies & those who contributed to the general welfare of Argentina all share space in a miniature city of mausoleums & monuments.

During a visit, you’ll stroll past Presidents & politicians (some naughty, some nice), Nobel Prize winners, literary greats, entertainers, scientists, military leaders, sports figures & even some who died tragically. The cemetery’s most famous resident, Eva María Duarte de Perón—simply Evita to her devotées—even had a bizarre post-mortem journey before finally resting in peace in Recoleta.

Want to learn more? Get all the details in our highly-recommended pdf guide. The authors of this blog are proud to have guided more than 1,500 people through Recoleta Cemetery… join in!

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512. julio dormal

Mausoleo de San Martín, Catedral Metropolitana, Buenos Aires

Recognized Argentine architects like Julián García Núñez & Alejandro Christophersen helped build Recoleta Cemetery and were buried there as well. But surprisingly few burial sites for major architects are known today. Perhaps they shared a similar fate as that of Julio Dormal…

Born in 1846 in Liège (Belgium), Jules Dormal Godet arrived in Argentina after studying architecture in Paris. Early business deals failed but after settling in Buenos Aires in 1870, Dormal’s timing & contacts could not have been better. Sarmiento hired him to design a new park—Parque 3 de Febrero—previously occupied by the estate of the President’s arch-enemy, Juan Manuel de Rosas.

Many more projects followed. In fact, Dormal was responsible for several landmarks still visible today in Buenos Aires. He designed the tomb to house the remains of General San Martín inside the cathedral (top photo above). After the assassination of architect Victor Meano, he continued construction of the National Congress:

Buenos Aires, Congreso Nacional

Meano also left the Teatro Colón incomplete, so Dormal took over as well & designed much of the interior:

Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón

Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón, Jules Dormal

Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón, Jules Dormal

In following years, Dormal completed or executed from start to finish many of the aristocratic mansions in the northern sector of the city. The Palacio Pereda now houses the Brazilian embassy:

Buenos Aires, Palacio Pereda

Unfortunately many of those grand houses have since been demolished. But the residence for Julio Peña still stands on Calle Florida, now occupied by the Sociedad Rural Argentina. Non-members can get a peek at the luxury inside by going for lunch at the restaurant:

Buenos Aires, Palacio Julio Peña, Sociedad Rural Argentina, Julio Dormal

Buenos Aires, Palacio Julio Peña, Sociedad Rural Argentina, Julio Dormal

Not limited to only Buenos Aires, Dormal also built several notable structures in other cities. Perhaps his most emblematic work outside the capital is the very afrancesado Casa de Gobierno in La Plata:

La Plata, Casa de Gobierno, Julio Dormal

La Plata, Casa de Gobierno, Julio Dormal

La Plata, Casa de Gobierno, Julio Dormal

Dormal passed away in 1924 & was buried in Recoleta Cemetery inside the mausoleum belonging to his wife, Elena Sosa Díaz. But his remains were cremated in 1989 and, according to cemetery records, were likely placed inside the Dolmas Arévalo vault. Why? No one knows. However, neither the Sosa Díaz tomb nor that of Dolmas Arévalo exist today.

Hopefully Jules Dormal continues to rest in peace wherever he may be.

Photos of the Casa de Gobierno in La Plata courtesy of Marcelo Metayer.

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507. busts

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, José M. Pirán

Lots of well-known people have busts placed on the exterior of the mausoleum… public reminders of important public figures. Good examples are physician/paleontologist Francisco Javier Muñiz, architect & founder of La Plata Pedro Benoit, Irish chaplain Anthony Fahy, teacher Emma Nicolay de Caprile, & the queen of grumpy Tiburcia del Carril.

Others are more private, placed inside the mausoleum, meant for primarily for family members. All the more reason to take a peek inside!

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust, Méndez de Andes

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

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505. isaac fernández blanco

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Isaac Fernández Blanco

Born in 1862, Isaac Fernández Blanco came from a family with an extensive history in the city of Corrientes. Isaac’s grandfather, Ángel, fought during independence wars against the Spanish but later moved to Buenos Aires, switching interests from politics to business.

In 1895, Isaac began to spend the family fortune on an impressive collection of Spanish colonial art. Even though an engineer by trade, his passion for period objects transformed the family house into a museum which eventually opened to the public. Isaac remained the museum’s honorary director until one year before his death in 1928.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Isaac Fernández Blanco

Family members continued to add to Isaac’s collection, & in 1947 the museum found a new location: the Palacio Noel. The Neocolonial residence built by architect Martín Noel serves as the perfect backdrop for the collection:

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Also buried in the family mausoleum is Naír Mercedes Fernández Blanco de Gowland, who founded the Asociación Guías Argentinas in 1953… during the last years of her life. The AGA is the local equivalent of the Girl Scouts, & a plaque reminds passersby of her contribution to Argentina:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Naír F.B. de Gowland

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