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Category: Black + white

455. historic photo 7

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, historic photo, Witcomb

Photo #358 from the Colección Witcomb, date unknown. This capture shows the same perspective as another historic photo but much later… judging from the increasingly urban character of Buenos Aires visible towards Calle Azcuénaga in the background.

Update (10 Apr 2013): Something always bothered me about this photo. The single landmark I could find for orientation is facing the wrong way. How can that be? And the height from which the photo was taken means the photographer shot from the bell tower of the Iglesia del Pilar… there’s absolutely no other possibility, past or present.

Remembering that original images were from glass plate negatives, perhaps flipping the image horizontally in Photoshop would fix things. It did; everything fell into place. Below is how the image should look:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Colección Witcomb


445. historic photo 6

Recoleta Cemetery, H.G. Olds, historic photo

Harry Grant Olds (1869-1943) was one of the most successful early photographers of Buenos Aires, coming to Argentina in 1900 after a brief stint in Valparaiso, Chile. This photo was taken in 1900 in the northwest corner of Recoleta Cemetery. Of note are the large mausoleum for the Familia del Carril, the monument to federal judge Virgilio M. Tedín &—although blending into the trees a bit—the memorial to Luis Viale.

Source: postcard sale on Mercado Libre… a great online source for finding old photographs. More incredible photos by Olds can be found in a collection titled “H.G. Olds, Fotografías 1900-1943, Un norteamericano retrata la Argentina (Ediciones de la Antorcha, 2011).


259. defferrari ◊

In post #045, the original owners of the spectacular Art Deco/Neo-Byzantine vault pictured below had not been confirmed. Removed long ago, their family name has been cited differently in every book about the cemetery, with DeFerrari or Del Ferrari being the most common:

Defferrari, Recoleta Cemetery

Thanks to Alejandro Machado & his obsession with Buenos Aires architecture, the family name has been verified as Defferari. Machado found the following photos in a January 1925 edition of a trade magazine titled “El Arquitecto.” Zooming in, the family name is fuzzy but certainly legible. There were a couple of interior photos published as well:

Defferrari, Recoleta Cemetery

Defferrari, Recoleta Cemetery

Defferrari, Recoleta Cemetery

Defferrari, Recoleta Cemetery

Even more exciting is the discovery of the identity of the architect… another bit of lost architectural heritage recovered by Machado. Alejandro Virasoro became the most important Art Deco architect in Buenos Aires with dozens of masterpieces in the city & founded a firm which still exists today. None of Virasoro’s buildings have the same Neo-Byzantine style of his vault in Recoleta Cemetery, but they are equally impressive… like this telescopic dome on Diagonal Norte:

Alejandro Virasoro, Diagonal Norte


255. historic photo 5

Iglesia de Pilar, Buenos Aires

Thanks to empedrados on Flickr for this rather fuzzy photo of the Iglesia de Pilar. Recoleta Cemetery is located immediately to the left of the church & the grounds in front look rather savage… but the police seem to have everything under control.

No date given for the photo.

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