Skip to content

Month: November 2011

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).


444. eugenio cardini

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Eugenio Cardini, Julián García Núñez

Eugenio Cardini was an immigrant from Piemonte, Italy who arrived in Buenos Aires around 1860. He eventually founded a factory which produced iron bedframes. Other types of furniture were made as well, & his market was mainly other immigrants… those with less resources, not the upper class. In 1898, some 2,000 bedframes per month were produced! The source for this info is the online Diccionario Biográfico Italo-Argentino compiled by the Asociación Dante Alighieri in Buenos Aires.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Eugenio Cardini, Julián García Núñez

The plaque mentions the “establishment” founded by Cardini & confirms his date of death as 08 Jan 1910:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Eugenio Cardini, Julián García Núñez

Just as interesting, Art Nouveau architect Julián García Núñez designed this vault. While not as elaborate as some of his apartment buildings, it represents one of the few constructions in Recoleta Cemetery with elements of modernisme… the Catalán take on Art Nouveau. García Núñez also built the family’s vacation home in Mar del Plata, unfortunately demolished today. Cardini faces boxer Luis Ángel Firpo & unfortunately is often overlooked.

Update (10 Dec 2012): The great-granddaughter of Cardini discovered this post & provided a bit more info (see comments below). Cardini liked photography so much that he purchased a Lumière camera during a trip to France. A brief clip of Plaza de Mayo—that’s the Cabildo in the background—from 1902 is short but very sweet. Thanks, Louise!!

Like Art Nouveau? Learn about the architects of the era, their individual styles & what makes Art Nouveau in Buenos Aires so unique with a 33-page guide from our sister site, Endless Mile.


443. general juan lavalle

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, General Juan Lavalle

Although very much deserving a spot in Recoleta Cemetery, it’s amazing that Lavalle ever made it here. His remains traveled almost as much as those of Eva Perón.

Juan Galo de Lavalle was born in 1797 in Buenos Aires, a direct descendant of Hernán Cortés. Amazing but true. He spent a good portion of his childhood in Santiago de Chile, but the family returned to Buenos Aires in 1807. Five years later at the age of 15, he joined the Granaderos where he fought under the command of Alvear & eventually served under San Martín in the Ejército de los Andes. Lavalle participated in many of the major battles of independence, reaching the rank of coronel.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, General Juan Lavalle

Lavalle found a moment to marry a woman from Mendoza, but he was soon placed on the battlefield again during the war with Brazil (1825-28). As a result of the war, Uruguay was created as a buffer state between Argentina & Brazil. The peace agreement signed by Manuel Dorrego drew feelings of resentment at the loss of the opposite bank of the Río de la Plata & internal tensions grew.

Salvador del Carril & others convinced Lavalle to support an alternative government, against that of Dorrego & Juan Manuel de Rosas. Even though they had been childhood friends, Lavalle ordered the execution of Dorrego who had been captured. It was a decision he would regret for the rest of his life. Instead of resolving an internal conflict, Dorrego’s execution sparked a civil war.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, General Juan Lavalle

Lavalle went into exile to Uruguay & commanded forces from there in an effort to defeat Rosas. But in 1840, the troops of Rosas managed to chase Lavalle all the way to northwest Argentina. Discovering where Lavalle was spending the night in San Salvador de Jujuy, troops shot at the house & Lavalle was mortally wounded. He died in 1841.

Officers were ordered to decapitate Lavalle’s body & display the head publicly, but troops loyal to Lavalle took his body further north. The next bit is particularly gruesome. Decaying & difficult to manage, they removed Lavalle’s flesh from the bones, placed his heart in a jar with alcohol & his head in a jar of honey. Lavalle was eventually laid to rest in Potosí, Bolivia. The following year Lavalle was moved to Valparaiso, Chile & only in 1861—after the destitution of Rosas—could Lavalle return to Buenos Aires & be buried in Recoleta Cemetery.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, General Juan Lavalle

The tomb should be better maintained, but one nice feature is a Granadero statue standing guard. The sword has been broken off several times (now in the admin office for safekeeping), & a plaque states:

Granadero! Vela su sueño y, si despierta, dile que su patria lo admira!

Soldier! Guard his sleep &, if he wakes, tell him that his country admires him!

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, General Juan Lavalle

Some sources claim that the statue is a work of Luis Perlotti, but after examining the sculpture closely there is no visible signature. Perlotti typically signed all his work, like the statue of Luis Ángel Firpo & a large number of plaques. The base display the following text: Arsenal Naval, B. Aires, Dársena Norte, so the Navy likely funded the statue. More research to be done…

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, General Juan Lavalle

Update (28 Aug 2022): Turns out there is a signature on the sculpture after all! Definitely not by Perlotti but by Víctor José Garino… responsible for several monuments in Argentina, most notably that of Martín Manuel de Guemes in Salta. Thanks to Adriana Ortolani for discovering the true sculptor!

Leave a Comment

442. herlitzka

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Herlitzka

In spite of being on a major walkway, this discrete, Neo-Byzantine mausoleum is easy to dismiss… perhaps because there is no way to peer inside. The surrounding tombs capture our attention quicker. Most people move on, unaware of the beauty inside.

Mauro Herlitzka was one of many Italian professionals who made the move to Argentina at the end of the 19th century. Born in Trieste in 1871, he graduated from the University of Turin with a specialty in industrial/electrical engineering—a new & promising field at the time. Herlitzka then moved to Germany to work for Siemens & AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft), constructing a number of large electrical plants in Europe.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Herlitzka

Arriving in Buenos Aires in 1897 as a rep for AEG, Herlitzka saw that the time was right to electrify Argentina. Although not the first electric company in the city, the CATE (Compañía Alemana Transatlántica de Electricidad, logo below) soon became the major provider… directed by Herlitzka. They negotiated a 50-year contract with the Buenos Aires city government & built an enormous complex in Dock Sud to provide for increased demand.

CATE logo

Herlitzka remained in Argentina for the rest of his life & became one of the country’s great industrial giants. Besides electricity, he developed telephone & telegraph lines for most of Argentina. Much of Herlitzka’s infrastructure survives today even though companies & holdings have changed hands several times since then. He passed away in 1960.

Herlitzka’s wealth funded the construction of this family vault & no expense was spared… probably why it isn’t openly visible to visitors. But if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a way to get a look. Make sure no one is watching—you didn’t hear this from me—and blindly take some photographs through the hole above the door. It’s quite a reach, so don’t drop your camera inside!!! Or just look at thespectacular interior here:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Herlitzka

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Herlitzka

The glass is supposedly from Murano & the tiles are gold leaf. No way to confirm that these days. But when the sun enters either in early morning or late afternoon, the interior is bathed in golden light. Definitely one of the most heavenly in the entire cemetery.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Herlitzka

For more on the history of electricity in Buenos Aires from the perspective of the CATE’s largest competitor—the CIAE—I have researched & written a series of 11 posts on my other blog, Endless Mile.