Skip to content

AfterLife Posts

584. poli – antonio riva

What a stunning statue of an angel gazing towards the heavens by Luigi Trinchero. Invited to Argentina by fellow Italian artist Victor de Pol in 1889, Trinchero directed a ceramics factory in La Plata that ultimately did not succeed. Soon after its closure, he returned to Italy.

However, Trinchero came back to Argentina at the insistence of Carlos Morra & this time would succeed. He established a workshop to produce ornamental sculpture… exactly what Buenos Aires needed as many aristocratic porteños rekindled their European origins & a building boom began. Trinchero decorated the Centro Naval, churches, schools & most famously the Teatro Colón.

I believe the Poli family was involved in construction, but at the moment we have no solid information about the family who sought out such a famous artist to decorate their mausoleum.

Leave a Comment

583. familia gelly y obes

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Gelly y Obes

Born in Buenos Aires in 1815, Juan Andrés Gelly y Obes had a high-ranking diplomat & lawyer for a father. His family emigrated from Paraguay to Argentina for political reasons, & after the birth of Juan Andrés they had to move to Montevideo in 1830. Father & son fought side by side against the relentless sieges of Rosas. Those early struggles no doubt inspired Gelly y Obes to enlist in the Argentine Legion at the age of 24.

Although reaching the rank of Lt. Coronel, Montevideo would later lose all its appeal: his father moved to Brazil & his mother died after being near a grenade explosion while visiting his position. He considered joining his father & returning to Paraguay, but in the end became a politician/military man in Buenos Aires. A long friendship with Bartolomé Mitre, begun in Montevideo, influenced his career for the rest of his life.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Gelly y Obes

During Mitre’s presidency, Gelly y Obes was named Minister of the Army & Navy but resigned to lead troops in person during the War of the Triple Alliance. When Argentine forces began to sack Asunción, he stepped down based on family connections there; some Paraguayans even wanted him to be their next President. In the end, he continued service in Congress in Buenos Aires & was reinstated in the military in 1877… to be removed again in 1880 after participating in a revolution with Mitre. Amazingly, this pattern would repeat itself when Julio Argentino Roca reinstated Gelly y Obes only to be dismissed again after supporting the Revolución del Parque in 1890.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Gelly y Obes
Gelly y Obes in full regalia, image courtesy of Geni website.

Later reinstated, Gelly y Obes served on Argentina’s top military council & supported the modernization of the military under General Pablo Riccheri. He passed away in 1904 at the age of 89 after a lifetime of service with no equal other than perhaps that of his friend Mitre! This Neogothic mausoleum sits near the rear wall of the cemetery & declared a National Historic Monument in 1946.

Leave a Comment
Featured Post

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 recommended may & pdf guide. The authors of this blog are proud to have guided more than 1,500 people through Recoleta Cemetery… join in!

Comments closed

582. jordan wysocki

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Jordan Czeslaw Wysocki
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Born in Poland in 1839, Jordan Czeslaw Wysocki graduated from a technical/engineering school & began his professional life by helping design the railway connecting Warsaw to St. Petersburg. Later in life on the losing side of an uprising against the Russian empire in 1862-63, he sought refuge in France. After work on the Paris-Bordeaux rail line, a Polish coworker suggested that Wysocki should go with him to Argentina & try his luck there. In 1867, he & his wife & daughter arrived in Buenos Aires.

Working on projects in northern Argentina, Wysocki joined the army as a surveyor in 1871. His fame preceded him, with President Sarmiento hiring the new lieutenant to create the first plan for the Parque 3 de Febrero in Palermo… using a small portion of what had been private landholdings of General Juan Manuel de Rosas:

Buenos Aires, Palermo, terrenos de Juan Manuel de Rosas, Endless Mile
Buenos Aires, Palermo, Parque 3 de Febrero, aerial view
Buenos Aires, Palermo, Parque 3 de Febrero

Wysocki would later design the main building of the botanical park in Buenos Aires, also located in Palermo:

Buenos Aires, Parque Botánico, la casona, Jordan Czeslaw Wysocki
La Casona, image courtesy of gobBsAs

Minister of War Adolfo Alsina promoted Wysocki to Sergeant Major & commissioned a topographic study of the Pampa… as preparation to build a 374 km trench used to keep territory away from the Mapuche tribe. Continuing work in Trenque Lauquen in the Province of Buenos Aires, much of his subdivision of the fertile grasslands is still used today.

After several more promotions, defensive projects & even receiving a medal of honor, Wysocki passed away in 1883 at the age of 44 with a rank of Lieutenant Coronel. He had traveled all the way to the border of Patagonia to help delineate & give order to a vast, growing nation. Unfortunately the location of his grave in a closed section of niches in Recoleta Cemetery makes his legacy to Argentina less visible & accessible to the visitor.

Leave a Comment

581. lorenzo fernández de viana

Lorenzo Fernández de Viana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Álava

Born in 1866 in Lanciego —a small town in the southern Basque region of Álava, near the border with La Rioja— Lorenzo Fernández de Viana began his artistic career as a cabinet maker… but soon moved on to bigger & better things. After obtaining grants to study in Madrid & Paris, he returned to the local capital of Vitoria to open the only sculpture workshop in the city. As a result, his art decorates the new cathedral & he even taught aspiring students.

Viana left it all for Argentina in 1912, accompanied by his three daughters. His timing could not have been more perfect, with Argentina booming & numerous cities requesting European artists to decorate the nation. Viana’s stay in America was brief, but he left behind works in Mar de Plata & Buenos Aires. Gaze up to the Constitución train station to find representations of Agriculture & Commerce… fitting since this was the gateway to the Pampas (photo below). On their return to the Basque Country in 1916, his family moved to Bilbao where Viana passed away ten years later in 1926.

Buenos Aires, Constitución, estación de tren, train station

During the height of the pandemic, the Museum of Fine Arts in Álava found this blog & requested to use photos from the tomb of Adolfo Alsina in an upcoming exhibition. Viana was responsible for several reliefs depicting scenes from Alsina’s life. Always happy to assist, I was pleased to contribute & receive a catalog. If you’re in Vitoria, visit the free exhibition because they’ve done a wonderful job in rescuing the memory of such a great artist (runs until 20 Mar 2022).

Lorenzo Fernández de Viana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Álava
Lorenzo Fernández de Viana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Álava
Lorenzo Fernández de Viana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Álava
Leave a Comment