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Month: February 2012

457. globe trekker filming

Globe Trekker, television, Buenos Aires episode

In January 2012, the folks at Pilot Film & Television Productions contacted me about helping them with a new Buenos Aires episode of Globe Trekker. Of course I agreed. The idea was to show the production crew around the cemetery… essentially give them a tour of the highlights. Evidently I passed the test, because they wanted me to appear on camera with their presenter. Excellent!

The producers returned earlier this week & brought the camera crew with them. We ended up filming 3 hours inside the cemetery—much more than I originally thought—which will be edited down to a few minutes. I wonder what will be kept, what will be cut & most importantly, how I will look/sound on television 🙂

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Robert Wright, Judith from Globe Trekker

Judith, the presenter, filmed a short intro first then we did a bit about Aramburu & Eva Perón. Roca came next, followed by Firpo, Rufina & eventually Eva Perón. Unfortunately there was no time for Liliana. Even though that doesn’t sound like much, we had to do several takes for each tomb plus scenes of us walking through the cemetery. We left with the security guards hounding us out.

Since I had no idea which tombs they would request or how much time they wanted to spend on each, everything I said during the taping was completely ad-libbed. And although lifetimes & influence are difficult to sum up in a few words accurately, I think I managed to do ok.

The only way to know will be to see the final result. The producers could not give me a release date, but they will send me a DVD when it’s finished. Or maybe I’ll see it on cable tv first! I’m guessing October-ish & will definitely post some screen captures in this blog.

Recoleta Cemetery, Globe Trekker crew, Judith, Robert Wright

Many thanks to the Pilot crew & the crash course about working in front of the camera!

Update (Nov 2012): The show has been released… read about it in this post.


456. familia de lacroze

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Born in Buenos Aires in 1838, Federico Lacroze quit his city job to make a small fortune in the town of Chivilcoy. Independently wealthy & known for his business savvy, the city government granted him a concession in 1870 to offer trolley service in Buenos Aires… horse-drawn at the time. Working with his brother, Julio—one of 10 siblings—their first line ran through downtown BA & connected Plaza de Mayo with Plaza Miserere (Once). In 1891, only three years before Lacroze passed away, they made the switch to electric trolleys.

Federico’s son, Teófilo, expanded the family business to include train lines & the B Line of the Buenos Aires subway system. A plaque shows visitors a bit of Federico’s history:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

The mausoleum is striking… a Neoclassical temple with sculptures of eternal flames & representations of caskets on top:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Julio Lacroze was the grandfather of Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, the richest woman in Argentina with a fortune of almost U$S 2 billion. Although her family was already wealthy, marriage to concrete magnate Alfredo Fortabat in 1947 placed her at the top. A bit scandalous for the time, “Amalita” had to get divorced in Uruguay before marrying Fortabat… but it was true love. He passed away in 1976 & she inherited the company plus all the work involved in running it.

Painted by Andy Warhol & amassing a huge art collection, she donated many works to a new museum recently opened in Puerto Madero. In fact, she was known for her charity… donating millions to those in need & stimulating the arts in Argentina. In February 2012, Amalia died of natural causes in Buenos Aires & was laid to rest in the family tomb, just above Alfredo.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat


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


454. l. palma y familia

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Palma, Ángel della Valle

The Palma family owned large amounts of land near the town of Carlos Tejedor in the Province of Buenos Aires. And while important enough in their own right, when well-known artist Ángel della Valle married into the family he certainly increased their status.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1855 to a family of Italian immigrants, della Valle showed an early aptitude for art. At the age of 20, he was sent to Florence to study then returned to Buenos Aires to paint & teach. Forming the Sociedad de Estímulo de Bellas Artes in the building Galerías Pacíficos now occupies, Della Valle influenced the next generation of artists & became friends with contempories such as Eduardo Sivori & Lucio Correa Morales.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Palma, Ángel della Valle

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Palma, Ángel della Valle

Sadly enough, Della Valle suffered a heart attack in 1903… while teaching class. And unfortunately for us, most of his work is in private collections today. His style has obvious Impressionist influences with a color palette similar to Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. Favorite subjects for Della Valle included landscapes, gauchos & the occasional portrait. Some works have recently sold for USD $45,000.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel della Valle

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel della Valle

Corrida de Sortija, Ángel della Valle

Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires, Ángel Della Valle, 1893

At least art lovers can visit his most famous work, “La Vuelta del Malón,” at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires. Painted in 1892, it seemed to justify the recent Conquista del Desierto as an indigenous warrior tribe carries away a white woman. Racial stereotypes aside, the colors, composition & technique are fascinating… probably why this piece was chosen to be displayed at the 1893 Columbian Expo in Chicago.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel della Valle

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453. antonio zinny

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Antonio Zinny

There’s no better example of how space is at a premium in Recoleta Cemetery than the crypt of Antonio Zinny, tucked neatly at the end of a diagonal avenue. The family managed to pack a nice memorial in a very limited space:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Antonio Zinny

Born in Gibraltar in 1821, Zinny arrived in Buenos Aires in 1842 to complete a law degree he’d begun in Spain. After a brief period in Corrientes & working at several newspapers, Zinny returned to Buenos Aires. He is remembered for founding a few schools, but Zinny seemed to have found his true calling as a historian while organizing national archives.

Sifting through Argentina’s early days inspired Zinny to write the first provincial histories ever published. Another significant contribution was compiling all the early newspapers printed in Argentina from Viceroyal times until the Rosas era (1776-1852)… no small accomplishment given that many were only printed locally & had a limited audience. It’s amazing that Zinny isn’t more recognized today.

Zinny passed away in 1890, but this crypt took some time to be built. The socialite magazine Caras y Caretas published a lengthy article in July 1907 (No. 458) about the dedication service. They even included a photograph of sculptor Alejo Joris alongside his bust of Zinny:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Antonio Zinny, Caras y Caretas

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Antonio Zinny, Caras y Caretas

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Antonio Zinny

In 1921, fellow immigrants from Gibraltar donated a plaque on the 100th anniversary of Zinny’s birth. I wonder if Zinny formed part of the Asociación Calpense de Socorros Mutuos?

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Antonio Zinny