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Month: April 2012

466. josé hernández

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, José Hernández

In 1834, José Rafael Hernández y Pueyrredón was born in the Province of Buenos Aires. His parents & relatives had property near Buenos Aires, so he spent most of his childhood in the big city. At the age of 9, his mother passed away. Diagnosed with respiratory problems, doctors recommended a change of climate for Hernández. He went to live with his father who ran ranches for Juan Manuel de Rosas… a great opportunity to learn the gaucho lifestyle.

Hernández began a military career in the 1850s. On & off, he participated in many of the decisive battles to determine if Buenos Aires would become the capital of Argentina. But a career in journalism lured Hernández away from the military. Already an established member of the literary community, his greatest work began to be published in 1872 as a newspaper series under the title “Martín Fierro.”

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, José Hernández

Combining gaucho folklore & romantic imagery, Martín Fierro became immediately popular for its authentic tone, first-person narrative & innovative use of language. The work became a fundamental piece of Argentine identity & by the time of its 11th edition in 1879, Hernández penned a popular sequel titled “La Vuelta de Martín Fierro.”

José Hernández passed away in 1886. Martín Fierro has been adapted in many formats since then, & many Argentines continue to identify with this classic piece of literature. Both texts can be found here, & it is often presented in comic format for a younger audience:

José Hernández, Martín Fierro

Despite his contribution to national identity, the tomb of José Hernández is rarely visited these days. It was made a National Historic Monument in 1946, & the following plaque was placed in 1964 on the 130th anniversary of his birth:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, José Hernández

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465. manuel d’huicque y familia

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Manuel d'Huicque

The first Manuel d’Huicque came from France & imported coffee from Brazil. Although several establishments were located in Buenos Aires, perhaps the most famous was Café La Brasileña located along the old Rambla of Mar del Plata. Apparently his son (“h”=hijo) had a fondness for sportscars!

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464. familia de catelín

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Catelín

Prosper Catelin, often referred to by the Spanish version of his name—Próspero—was born in France in 1764. After immigrating to Argentina, his technical skill modernized the city of Buenos Aires. Catelin directed the Department of Engineers/Architects during the presidency of Bernadino Rivadavia in the 1820’s & worked alongside some of the early greats of Argentine architecture, most notably Pedro Benoit.

Some of Catelin’s works survive today, even though they are almost 200 years old. The recently restored Sala de Representantes for the local government sits inside the Manzana de la Luces in downtown Buenos Aires:

Buenos Aires, Manzana de las Luces, Sala de Representantes

Working with Benoit, Catelin designed the façade of the Catedral Metropolitana on Plaza de Mayo. Complete construction of the cathedral would take some 300 years, & the façade & its freize were final touches. Strikingly Neoclassical, it is said to have been inspired by the Palais Bourbon or the Madeleine in Paris… structures that were surely familiar to Benoit & Catelin:

Buenos Aires, Catedral Metropolitana, façade

Most relevant for this blog is that Catelin designed the initial layout of Recoleta Cemetery when it opened in 1822. Remember that the cemetery’s early appearance was quite different from its look today, with much more greenery & several dirt paths to stroll through the gated plots:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Witcomb Collection

The dates on the Catelin tomb are difficult to understand: 1838—1903. Prosper lived from 1764 to 1842. His wife likely had similar dates & their only son lived from 1826 to 1870. Not sure what they mean… if a descendant reads this, we’d like to know!

Final image is Photo #347 from the Colección Witcomb: dozens of Buenos Aires photographs taken at the end of the 19th & beginning of the 20th century.


463. (nicolás) avellaneda

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Nicolás Avellaneda

Born in San Miguel de Tucumán in 1837, young Nicolás had to cope with the death of his father, Marco Avellaneda, around the time of his fourth birthday. For opposing Rosas, Marco’s severed head was placed on a pike in the main square as an example to all. The family immediately moved to Bolivia.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Nicolás Avellaneda

Nicolás eventually returned to Argentina to study law & became a well-known journalist. His political career began in 1859—at the age of 22—after being elected to serve in Congress. During the presidency of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Avellaneda served as Ministro de Justicia, Culto e Instrucción Pública & helped create free, public education in Argentina.

At the end of Sarmiento’s term, Avellaneda was elected President. His main rival, Bartolomé Mitre, claimed electoral fraud & found military support… but Avellaneda quickly ended the rebellion & even pardoned Mitre in order to ease political tension. Avellaneda got to work quickly, getting approval of an immigration law which attracted millions of Europeans to Argentina & changed the country’s identity forever. He also attempted to balance the budget & appointed Julio Argentino Roca to “conquer” the desert lands of Patagonia.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Nicolás Avellaneda

Avellaneda even tackled one of the biggest issues in Argentine history: the federalization of Buenos Aires. It caused another rebellion lead by Carlos Tejedor, forcing the President to abandon BA & move the national government to Belgrano. But Roca eventually defeated Tejedor & by the end of Avellaneda’s term in 1880, Buenos Aires became once & for all the capital of Argentina.

Avellaneda remained in politics, serving as Senator for his native province & establishing autonomy for all national universities. He & his wife traveled to Europe in 1885, hoping to find a cure for his kidney problems, but Avellaneda passed away on the boat trip back to Argentina at the age of 48. He accomplished a lot during his lifetime, including fathering 12 children!

Like neighbor President Roque Sáenz Peña, the cemetery wall serves as a perfect place to hang dedicatory plaques:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Nicolás Avellaneda

Somewhat hidden at the base of the statue is the Latin phrase: In Dicendo Princeps… roughly translated as “Master of Speech.”

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Nicolás Avellaneda