Lola Mora’s Fuente de las Nereidas (Fountain of the Nereids): a new look at an old controversy

Georgina G. Gluzman

GLUZMAN, Georgina G..  Lola Mora’s Fuente de las Nereidas (Fountain of the Nereids): a new look at an old controversy. 19&20, Rio de Janeiro, v. X, n. 1, jan./jun. 2015. Disponível em: <http://www.dezenovevinte.net/uah1/ggg_en.htm>. [Español]

 *     *     *

1.       In Argentina, the bibliography on women artists has been dominated by the figure of Lola Mora (1866-1936),[1] an artist born in Tucumán. In the national literature on art, the sculptor occupies a unique place. Unlike other turn-of-the-century artists, her career has been included in most of the general history accounts of Argentine art written since 1922. Moreover, Mora has become one of the most deeply researched artists - man or woman - in art history, having at least five solidly documented monographs dedicated to her life.[2] The fascination aroused by her figure has by far exceeded the limits of the discipline, stretching out to the fields of film, theater, and literature.

2.       In her biography of Mora, journalist Moira Soto was the first to point out that the story of her rise and precipitous fall fueled an heroic narrative built mainly since the 1930s, when the press propagated rumors about her personal life and financial situation.[3] This story reappears in the novels and films dedicated to her life.[4] Curiously enough, it also pervades other rigorous and documented investigations which often cannot elude the “legend” that Mora’s life had been turned into, thus reproducing stereotypes. As a corollary of the crystallization of this story, the monographs devoted to the sculptor portray Mora as the only active turn-of-the-century artist, overlooking innumerous contemporary artists who are completely absent in the Argentine literature on Art.

3.       Although the Fountain of the Nereids [Figure 1] constitutes, with no exception, the core of all existing studies on the sculptor, analyses have focused on the reception of the fountain and its location in the urban space. However, little consideration has been given either to the models the artist may have reinterpreted, to the intertextual relationships established by the work,[5] or to explanations for them. In the absence of original documents by the sculptor which might cast light on some of these issues, the existing literature has chosen to ignore the challenge of inquiring about the sources of the Fountain, the artistic traditions with which it establishes a dialogue and the innovations it presents. Mora’s scholarly disposition, evident in other works in which the repertoire of subjects and classical motifs are crucial, has also been overlooked.

4.       We intend to analyse the changes made to the Fountain from the first sketch to its final configuration; to perform a detailed iconographic and formal analysis in order to untangle the web of allusions included in the Fountain of the Nereids; and to describe the specificity of the treatment Mora gave to a traditional subject. Understanding the Fountain of the Nereids as a scholarly exercise presupposes exploring Mora in the light of issues which so far have only been marginally studied: her condition as an erudite artist, trained in the so-called cradle of art, and the fact that she was introduced to the public of Buenos Aires through a fountain that condenses a multiplicity of artistic references. Thus, the fountain acquires a new meaning due to the fact that the work was offered to the city of Buenos Aires in appreciation for the academic training Mora had received thanks to a skills improvement grant funded by the Argentine government.[6] The very typology of the fountain had precise geographical and erudite connotations, as fountains had been a subject of humanistic thought since the early 15th century.[7]

5.       This type of analysis is deeply anchored in the “traditional” art history. Since the 1980s, certain viewpoints held within feminist art history have argued that this sort of study should be abandoned when considering the work of women artists, highlighting that it is only useful when “dealing with the work of white male artists”.[8] However, it is particularly appropriate in the case of Lola Mora, an artist with a solid academic background whose trajectory has been made invisible not by neglect and silence, but by turning her into a heroine.

6.       In the panorama of Argentina’s literature on art, Lola Mora plays multiple roles. She is simultaneously a pioneer woman artist, a victim of the political changes of the early 20th century, a highly sexualized creature and a true patriot. Her status as an artist is not as clearly described and, although there is a surprising profusion of texts revolving around her figure, her works have not been studied from a viewpoint including deep formal and iconographic analyses, which have been denied to her precisely because she was a woman. Regarding this, we follow Ann Sutherland Harris in her famous debate with Griselda Pollock, in which she asserts that a possible way to rethink Mora is exactly by focusing on her works.[9]

7.       The Fountain of the Nereids was one of the most celebrated art pieces at the turn of the century in Buenos Aires. It is an ornamental fountain whose pool takes the shape of a shell [Figure 1]. Three male figures holding the reins of three rearing hippocampi rise from the group of rocks in the pool. The rocky clusters are not evenly distributed, but rather frame Venus, establishing a virtual front for the fountain. In the bedrock situated in the center of the pool, there are two female figures whose legs become flexible fishtails, weakening the solidness of the marble. These figurations support a second shell on which we find a representation of Venus in an unstable posture. The edge of this second cup presents irregularities that originally allowed an elaborate water display, today completely lost.

8.       The news concerning the fountain that Mora would offer to the municipality of Buenos Aires began circulating in August 1900, when the sculptor returned to the city after having been in Italy since 1897. Most authors assert that Mora was going to give away the work to the city, although earlier chronicles speak of a sale[10] which ended up never taking place. Shortly after, the sculptor made the proposal to donate the fountain as a way of reckoning the opportunity she had been given to be trained in Italy.

9.       The gift alluded explicitly to the artistic education Mora had received in Italy. The work was made almost entirely in Rome, with materials that also referred to a precise artistic tradition: Carrara and travertine marble. But above all, the typology chosen by Mora, who later showed no interest in the realization of fountains -, had specific connotations. The development of the fountain typology had been very relevant in Italy.[11] On the other hand, Rome was - and continues to be - celebrated as the city of fountains par excellence.[12]

10.    One aspect that has not attracted the attention of specialists is the existence of two very different sketches for the Fountain of the Nereids, one showing the proposal executed in the work, and another one that differs formally and iconographically from it, in which the central figure is Nereus [Figure 2].[13] We tend to think that this proposal predates that of Venus with the Nereids. This variation - with Venus instead of Nereus - could be an adaptation of the subject initially proposed by Mora to the Municipality, excluding Nereus and moving beyond the tradition of fountains with male deities associated with water.

11.    The sketch with Nereus has not been analysed in detail by Mora’s biographers or scholars, maybe because the images that were available did not facilitate observation. We have found, in an Italian publication, an image whose quality enables a more detailed examination.[14] The correspondent in Rome of the newspaper La Nación noted, referring to this maquette, that the “argument of the work is mythological: more than that, it constitutes a whole lesson in mythology”,[15] highlighting an aspect of Mora completely silenced in the countless written productions on her life: her character as an erudite artist, acknowledged by some of her contemporaries. This early project presented the god Nereus, an ancient divinity of the sea,[16] surrounded by his daughters, the Nereids.

12.    Mora’s pyramidal composition was clearly indebted to the tradition of Italian fountains, in which the dominant figure is Neptune, Olympian god who reigns over the sea, a tradition inaugurated by Montorsoli’s Neptune Fountain, executed between 1551 and 1557, a period of an authentic renaissance of the fountain typology.[17] On the other hand, the figure of Nereus would rest on an obelisk, which also links his work visually to the Roman fountains crowned this way, particularly to the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini, whose bedrock also had an echo in Mora’s maquette.

13.    The La Nación columnist observed that the fountain with Nereus would be placed in the Plaza de Mayo, on the site occupied by the Pirámide de Mayo, which would be transferred to another location. Thus, the sculptor, based on principles still unknown today, was hoping to realize the aspiration of a generation of intellectuals and artists who saw the modest revolutionary monument as a “petty masonry construction”.[18] The sketch would be earlier than that of the Nereids, and can be identified as belonging to the time when Mora planned a fountain specifically for the Plaza de Mayo. The figure of a male divinity of the sea, present in many Italian squares, would lend itself to civic readings that would be appropriate for the location of the work. Nereus was, according to Hesiod, a sincere and true God, a description that is repeated by various authors of Antiquity.[19] Therefore, he was a character that matched the importance and meaning of the Buenos Aires’ square.

14.    It is plausible to think that, once the idea of taking the space occupied by the Pirámide had been discarded, Mora made another proposal whose tone was completely different and which would not be as appropriate for the Plaza de Mayo. Instead, it would fit the purpose of making the Paseo de Julio more enjoyable, following the embellishment plan for Buenos Aires. Here, the classical notion of decorum plays a crucial role. As Ernst Gombrich remarks, to be decorous is to be appropriate: specific contexts will demand specific subjects.[20]

15.    Since the 1930s it has been argued that the fountain was not installed in the Plaza de Mayo because of the nudity of its figures, being assigned to a place that was thought to be marginal, although in reality it was not. The recurring story of abandoning the original idea of ​​placing the Fountain of the Nereids in the Plaza de Mayo might actually be due to a confusion concerning Mora’s double project and not to the scandalous nudes most of the bibliographical references speak about. This confusion has effectively concealed the artist’s knowledge on the tradition of fountains, because - while the figure of Nereus would be appropriate for a space of such symbolic importance as the Plaza de Mayo - the fountains with the figure of Venus had a long history as works considered appropriate for private gardens and, in a broader sense, places meant for otium.[21] Indeed, Lomazzo in his Trattato dell'arte de la pittura, scoltura et archittetura (1584), specifies which themes should appear in fountains, gardens, rooms, places of entertainment and musical instruments: love stories of gods and of transformations of goddesses and nymphs, episodes involving water, trees and other cheerful and pleasant things.[22] It is highly probable that Mora was acquainted with these ideas and knew that a mythological theme like the birth of Venus would be out of place in a site of such great symbolic importance as the Plaza de Mayo.

16.    In our hemerographic research, we have only found one text condemning the fountain for moral issues, and the fact that the work had been created by a woman just aggravated the situation. However, even this article pointed out the convenience of the site chosen for the fountain: “if placed in one of our squares, as originally intended, its nudity would have been edgier, but in the Paseo de Julio in the midst of the green grass and the Platanus that surround it, facing the embankments, it seems to have found a more natural background”.[23] Despite his displaying a certain resentment against the nudes, even this reporter acknowledged that the Paseo de Julio was an appropriate place for this type of work.

17.    Decorum, in the sense of appropriateness, also found expression in the virtual front of the fountain. Few scholars have taken the time to analyse how the three lower groups frame the central figures, establishing a clear axis. It is not by chance that, despite the frequently mentioned character of fountains having a walkable space around them, it has a posterior part; it is precisely Venus’ back.

18.    The proposal with Nereus as subject was replaced by a different idea that presented particular problems. Although there are earlier records of the representation of Venus in fountains, these were generally of a simpler conception than the elaborate existing pictorial representations of the deity, upon which we must look back if we are to value Mora’s work.

19.    Despite its suggestive name, the subject of Mora’s fountain is Venus Anadyomene, i.e., Venus rising from the sea. The topic chosen by the artist has a long history in Western art and represents a real challenge in academic art, since it involves the representation tradition initiated by Apelles.[24] Its iconography has multiple sources, pioneeringly studied by Aby Warburg.[25] Hesiod,[26] mentioning none but a few details of the prodigy, gives an account of the episode of the birth of Venus: Cronos (Saturn) cut off Uranus’ (Caelus’) genitals, throwing them into the sea. Around the genitals arose sea foam from which Aphrodite was born. The Hymn to Aphrodite presents a more complex narrative, mentioning the jewels with which the Horai adorned her.[27]

20.    The fountain with Venus was one of the most long-lasting findings of the artists of the 16th century. The “rediscovery” of antiquity had decisively renewed the typology. Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo stated that a “sea god or nymph who dominates the waters, including also stories of the sea gods and their sweethearts, so often seen”[28] should be placed in the crown of the fountains. Venus at her bath became a friendly theme to decorate promenades.

21.    The theme of the birth of Venus was intimately related to water and, therefore, was appropriate for fountains. On the other hand, it had a long tradition that included both relatively simple treatments like Venus emerging from a shell[29] (a motif obviously inspired by ancient terracottas)[30] and more elaborate treatments with a standing female figure surrounded by attributes - a very persistent representation - also linked to small works of the classical world.

22.    The subject had also been treated in an extremely complex way in the arts since the 15th century.[31] In The Triumph of Galatea, Rafael established a complex procession of creatures, including tritons and ictiocentaurs,[32] according to the model of the Venus triumphans.[33] Artists such as Andrea Mantegna had studied these creatures from classical reliefs.[34] The iconographies of Venus, Amphitrite, and Galatea clearly became increasingly close to one another in the Italian art of the 16th century. Giorgio Vasari’s interpretation of the birth of Venus included this repertoire that would become mandatory for subsequent interpretations: a multitude of tritons, sirens and sea-nymphs surrounding Venus.[35]

23.    Venus could also be represented in her shell, not only surrounded, but also sustained by tritons. This model had clear classical references.[36] This scheme would prove to be successful. However, there was another variant of the procession of Venus, also with important classical antecedents (e.g. in Pompeian wall paintings), in which the procession was entirely or almost entirely feminine. However, the Nereids would rarely bear the weight of Venus on the shell, something that only occurred exceptionally through the centuries.[37] Indeed, we have analysed hundreds of images available in the digital catalogues of various museums (British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Warburg Institute Iconographic Database, to name a few), noting its unusual frequence.

24.    The title of Mora’s fountain highlights precisely these two figures bearing the goddess. Although it is not an invention by the sculptor, most of the models were against this interpretation. Venus’ female companions rarely go beyond their decorative role. Therefore, it is an option that deserves to be analysed. It is conceivable to think of some feminist intention in this work. As a matter of fact, Mora’s contemporaries closely associated her to feminism and feminists themselves saw in her a representative of the “new woman”.

25.    A caricature in Caras y Caretas made fun of the sculptures commissioned on the occasion of the Argentina Centennial. A vignette made reference to the powerful female figures in the group projected by Mora [Figure 3]. In this vignette, a woman solemnly delivers a flag to a soldier, scared of her advance, while a child observes this group. By means of this, empowered women are mocked. The caricature belongs to a long series of visual critiques towards feminism, whose supporters would supposedly abandon their domestic duties.[38]

26.    The women’s movement in Buenos Aires showed a marked interest in Mora’s achievements. Ever since her return to Buenos Aires, she attracted the interest of journalists, including an anonymous writer for La Columna del Hogar, who praised her so: “…will be today the first daughter of this land to devote herself to sculpture, one of the most difficult branches of art, one which represents the largest and noblest of things, deities, meaningful emblems, the image of heroes, commemmorative monuments, statues and notorious beauties”.[39] Furthermore, there was a feminist counterpart to the banquet offered to the sculptor in the Club del Progreso, which attracted all of Mora’s biographers without exception.[40] It is the little known tea party offered to the sculptor by Argentinian academic women. Mora’s photograph, surrounded by feminists as notorious as Cecilia Grierson, unveils a hidden facet of the impact of her figure [Figure 4].[41]

27.    Mora was associated with feminism not only for being a representative of the “new woman”. The abovementioned caricature in Caras y caretas mocked the powerful female figures in Mora’s sculptural groups. Indeed, Mora’s female images were characterized by their verve. Leopoldo Lugones was early to observe, in the Fountain, Mora’s intention of separating a male world of seahorses and struggles from a female world of grace and triumph.[42] Her female images would become increasingly powerful. Inaugurated in Tucumán in 1904, the figure of Libertad (Liberty), with its “elegant impulse [...] staring into the future”, was one of these works [Figure 5].[43]

28.    Whereas the hypothesis linking these active female figures with the topos of the feminist movement - omnipresent at the turn of the century in Buenos Aires - can be audacious, an analysis of its features makes it possible to dismiss a direct connection between these representations and sickening sirens and other fantastic creatures of the fin-de-siècle imagination with which they have been associated [Figure 6].[44] The passive or mortally dangerous aspect of these figurations, considered by Dijkstra as an iconography of misogyny,[45] contrasts with the vigor of Mora’s Nereids, smiling and strong.

29.    On the other hand, the Nereids, after whom the work was named even in the maquette featuring Nereus, were depicted in the finished fountain with curious limbs, as it can be deduced from the fluid line they describe. This curious representation strongly attracted the attention of certain contemporaries. Justo Solsona noted that “it has been criticized that Mora’s sirens divert from the legend, being perfect women down to their mid-thighs, point at which fish scales begin, their legs finishing in two curved tails... instead of only down to their waist, as they are portrayed in antique drawings”.[46] In fact, Mora did not follow the strictly classical characterization of the Nereids. These mythological figures were not hybrids and were represented simply as women.[47]

30.    Where did Mora’s tritons come from? Although not endowed with an accurate mythology, tritons as well as families of tritons appear in Greek, Etruscan and Roman art.[48] In addition, women-fish constitute one of the most recurrent elements in the Italian tradition of fountains from the 16th to the 19th century. However, Mora inverts the terms of this organization: by placing at the centre of the fountain that which occupied a marginal place in the sketch featuring Nereus, she transforms the decorative into something significant, triggering an interplay which makes the title of the work enigmatic. Curiously enough, classical rhetoric enabled this interplay through the use of metonymy tropes.

31.    The marine thiasus is the representation of a group of sea creatures: tritons, nereids, and fantastic animals.[49] Its most famous example in Antiquity is the set of Escopas - now lost - only known through Pliny’s description. It figured “Neptune himself, Thetis, and Achilles, the Nereids on dolphins and fish, as well as seahorses, tritons and the choir of Forcis, and sea monsters, and many other sea creatures, all drawn by his own hand, a brilliant work”.[50] This joyful group has been included in the representations of the birth of Venus created since the 16th century. However, Mora’s organization introduces a significant difference. As observed by Lugones, the work has been divided into two clearly different parts: a masculine one at the base and a feminine one at the top. This erudite fountain, destined to impress due to the wide range of intertextual relationships it establishes, makes reference to several moments in art history.

32.    The figure of Venus drew the attention of the chroniclers even before the inauguration of the fountain. Actually, it was on display during the only occasion in which Mora took part in an exhibition together with other contemporary artists. Its unstable posture sets it apart from the usual representations of the subject. Strictly speaking, it refers to the iconographic tradition of Venus at her bath, an impudent classical theme that has been subject to various subsequent re-elaborations, such as the tradition of small Hellenistic sculptures[51] which Mora may have become acquainted with during her training with Constantino Barbella, a specialist in statuettes.[52] Most importantly, there is a group of Mannerist examples, both in painting and sculpture,[53] to whose unstable forms Mora was strongly attracted.

33.    The universe of reference of the base of the fountain is different: it is closely connected to the seahorses and tritons of the Fontana di Trevi, undoubtedly the most famous fountain in Rome. In a wider perspective, the rearing seahorses aspired to become part of the equestrian sculpture tradition. Besides the expert gaze Mora appealed to, she acknowledged that the shells in her work made reference to other fountains in Rome[54]. Our current perception of her fountain is very far from the original conception of the artist. Indeed, the entire composition was made dynamic by the action of water, following the model established by Bernini, particularly in the Triton Fountain. On the other hand, the male figures provided Mora with an opportunity to highlight another of her talents: portraiture. According to various sources, the three faces would be the portraits of distinguished young men who had posed for her in Rome.

34.    Mora’s contemporaries widely acknowledged her willingness to present herself as an erudite artist. Leopoldo Lugones, who joined the discussion on the anatomy of the Nereids, summed it up: “classical tradition enriches her freedom of imagination”. Thus, despite finding the Nereids’ fishtails solution unsatisfactory, Lugones recognized that the artist possessed a refined iconographic knowledge. In short, he admitted that she was an academic artist, not in a pejorative sense (the outdated, the obsolete), but in an erudite one.[55] There were some who did not understand Mora’s arrangement: the magazine Letras y Colores pointed out the reminiscence of works contemplated in the Old World and the absence of a fully original tone as one of the most prominent flaws of the fountain.[56]

35.    Also, Eduardo Schiaffino - Mora’s opponent in the commission for the monument dedicated to Aristobulo del Valle - found in these classical references the fundamental imperfection of the fountain. Schiaffino recalled, in an account of the discussions concerning Mora’s choice, “that the composition of the fountain, with no originality whatsoever, and the obvious execution of its mythologies, clearly indicated that the artist was not prepared to interpret the heightened personality of Aristóbulo del Valle”.[57]

36.    The Fountain of the Nereids, a work of singular importance in Argentina’s visual culture, presents itself as an ingenious display of erudition, an authentic “meaning-machine”. Despite its popularity and centrality in Mora’s career, the two alternative projects, which shed light on Mora’s formal training, as well as the multiple references presented by the fountain, have remained partially veiled. Its unique iconography of Venus held by female attendants could be read as a commentary on the “new woman”, whose visual representations covered topics as diverse as mythology or the heroines of the past.

37.    The multiple relationships of intertextuality articulated by Mora constitute her “gift-presentation”, an intentioned artistic object whose beautiful forms continue to attract those strolling along the Costanera Sur. Far from being another sacrifice of the patriot artist par excellence, absolutely devoted to her nation, Mora sought to show the artistic traditions she had absorbed and her distinctive freedom in combining them. Pingeot observed that the sculpture of the 19th century was characterized by the re-elaboration of historical motifs in new configurations with a surprising degree of freedom, similar to the one Mora benefitted from during the years of greater achievements. By means of subtle deviations, her inventiveness succeeded in transforming a work full of classical references in a feminist display of triumphant women. The reconstruction of the sources of the Fountain aims at showing that Mora’s variations can be read as elaborate visual statements.

References

BARRINGER, Judith M. Divine Escorts. Nereids in Archaic and Classical Greek Art. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995

BLAIR MACDOUGALL, Elisabeth. Fountains, Statues, and Flowers. Studies in Italian Gardens of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1994

CORREA, Elena. Lola Mora. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1981

CORSANI, Patricia. Lola Mora. El poder del mármol. Buenos Aires: Vestales, 2009

CROUZEL, Elena S.; SANTORO, Liliana Elena; SANTORO, Tito. Lola Mora (1867-1936). Buenos Aires: Ameriberia, 1980

DIJKSTRA, Bram. Ídolos de perversidad. La imagen de la mujer en la cultura de fin de siglo. Madrid: Debate, 1994.

ELVIRA BARBA, Miguel Ángel. Arte y mito. Manual de iconografía clásica. Madrid: Sílex.

GARB, Tamar. Sisters of the Brush. Women`s Artistic Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris. New Haven, Conn., and London: Yale University Press, 1994. 

GIOVANNI, Neria de. Lola Mora l’Argentina di Roma. Roma: Edizioni Nemapress, 2010

GOMBRICH, Ernst H. Botticelli’s Mythologies: A Study in the Neoplatonic Symbolism of His Circle, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 8, 1945.

GOMBRICH, Ernst. Objetivos y límites de la iconología. In: WOODFIELD, Richard (ed.). Gombrich esencial. Madrid: Debate, 1997. 

GOMBRICH, Ernst. “Objetivos y límites de la iconología”. In: WOODFIELD, Richard (ed.). Gombrich esencial. Madrid: Debate, 1997

GRIMAL, Pierre. Diccionario de mitología griega y romana. Buenos Aires, Paidós, 2004

HAEDO, Oscar Félix. Lola Mora. Vida y obra de la primera escultora argentina. Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 1974

HAEDO, Oscar Félix. Las fuentes porteñas. Buenos Aires: Municipalidad de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1978

HESIOD. Theogony.

LOMAZZO, Giovanni Paolo. Trattato dell’arte della pittura, scultura et architettura. Divisso in sette libri, tomo II. Rome: Presso Saverio del-Monte

LOSADA, Leandro. La alta sociedad en la Buenos Aires de la Belle Époque: sociabilidad, estilo de vida e identidades. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI Editora Iberoamericana, 2008,

LUGONES, Leopoldo. La fuente de Lola Mora, Tribuna, May 27th, 1903, p. 2.

MALOSETTI COSTA, Laura (selection and forward). Cuadros de viaje. Artistas argentinos en Europa y Estados Unidos (1880-1910). Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2008.

_____. Los primeros modernos. Arte y sociedad en Buenos Aires a fines del siglo XIX. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001.

PÁEZ DE LA TORRE, Carlos and TERÁN, Celia. Lola Mora. Una biografía. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1997

PATARCA, Amanda. El convite de la Mora. Buenos Aires: Lumen, 2002

PAYRÓ, Julio E. Prilidiano Pueyrredón, Joseph Dubourdieu, la Pirámide de Mayo y la Catedral de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires: Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, 1971,

PLINY the Elder. Historia natural.

POLLOCK, Griselda. Differencing the Canon. Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories. London/New York: Routledge, 1999.

POPE-HENNESSY, John. Italian High Renaissance & Baroque Sculpture. London: Phaidon Press, 2000

PULVERS, Marvin. Roman Fountains. 2000 Fountains in Rome. A Complete Collection. Roma: “L’erma” di Bretschneider, 2002.

ROJAS PAZ, Pablo. Mármoles bajo la lluvia. Buenos Aires: Losada, 1954.

SOTO, Moira. Lola Mora. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1992. The catalogue of the exhibition curated by Pablo Mariano Solá at Espaciomultiarte needs to be added to these works.

SOLÁ, Pablo Mariano. Por amor al arte. Buenos Aires: Espaciomultiarte, 2007.

SOLSONA, Justo. República Argentina. Buenos Aires. Lola Mora. In: La Ilustración Artística, año XXII, núm. 1138, October 19th, 1903

SUTHERLAND HARRIS, Ann. Letter to the Editor. In: ROBINSON, Hilary (ed.). Visibly Female. Feminism and Art Today. London: Camden Press, 1987

TAYLOR, Rabun. The Moral Mirror of Roman Art. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008

VALERO DE BERNABÉ, Luis; MÁRQUEZ DE LA PLATA Y FERRÁNDIZ, Vicenta María. Simbología y diseño de la heráldica gentilicia galaica. Madrid: Hildalguía, 2003

WARBURG, Aby. Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Spring. An Examination of Concepts of Antiquity in the Italian Early Renaissance. In: _____. The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity: Contributions to the Cultural History of the European Renaissance. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1999.

Caras y Caretas, año III, núm. 98, August 18th, 1900

Los banquetes al Dr. Quirno Costa y Lola Mora, Caras y Caretas, año VI, núm. 248, July 4th, 1903, s. p.

El Diario, March 22nd, 1902

Il Secolo XX, año 5, 1906

La Nación, April 23rd, 1901

El Pueblo, May 22nd, 1903

Crónica, La Columna del Hogar, año II, núm. 66, August 15th, 1900

La fuente de Lola Mora, Letras y Colores, año I, núm. 3, June 15th, 1903

English translation by Elena O´Neill

_________________________

[1] Sculptor and painter. Began her education at the Colegio Sarmiento, where she had drawing lessons. After the death of her parents in 1885, she began studying painting under the guidance of Santiago Falcucci (1856-1922), an Italian master who come to Tucumán in 1887 and the author of one of the first biographical sketches on Mora. Between 1897 and 1900, she lived in Italy thanks to a grant ensured by influential politicians. Upon returning home, she received important official and private commissions in Buenos Aires, Rosario and Tucumán. After a limited period of intense activity between 1900 and 1907, Mora’s career suffered unexpected setbacks. During the last years of her life, she worked in the north of the country. She died in Buenos Aires, after the failure of projects related to cinema and mining.

[2] CORREA, Elena. Lola Mora. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1981; CORSANI, Patricia. Lola Mora. El poder del mármol. Buenos Aires: Vestales, 2009; HAEDO, Oscar Félix. Lola Mora. Vida y obra de la primera escultora argentina. Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 1974; PÁEZ DE LA TORRE, Carlos and TERÁN, Celia. Lola  Mora. Una biografía. Buenos  Aires: Planeta, 1997; SOTO, Moira. Lola Mora. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1992. The catalogue of the exhibition curated by Pablo Mariano Solá at Espaciomultiarte should be added to these works. SOLA, Pablo Mariano, Por amor al arte. Buenos Aires: Espaciomultiarte, 2007.

[3] SOTO, Moira. op. cit., pp. 91-109. In her book, the journalist proposes to remove some layers from a myth. Ibidem, p. 15. Her contribution to the literature on the artist clearly differs from the other monographs, constituting an exceptional work in the analysis of the configuration of Mora as an artistic heroine.

[4] There are at least four novels dedicated to Mora’s life. CROUZEL, Elena S.; SANTORO, Liliana Elena and SANTORO, Tito. Lola Mora (1867-1936). Buenos Aires: Ameriberia, 1980; DE GIOVANNI, Neria. Lola Mora l’Argentina di Roma. Roma: Edizioni Nemapress, 2010; PATARCA, Amanda. El convite de la Mora. Buenos Aires: Lumen, 2002; and ROJAS PAZ, Pablo. Mármoles bajo la lluvia. Buenos Aires: Losada, 1954. Both Rojas Paz's work and that of Elena Crouzel, Liliana and Tito Santoro have been cited by intensely documented research, having been attributed a rigour which they lacked and contributing to the repetition of certain elements of the stories that turned Mora’s life into a legend. In addition to the numerous documentaries dedicated to her, Mora features also as the main character of a film: Lola Mora (Javier Torre, 1996). The plan was to make a film titled Lola Mora, a fascinating life, based on the novel of Santoro and produced by Toto Rey. We thank Dr. Geraldine Gluzman for her invaluable assistance in the translation of Neria De Giovannis text.

[5] Haedo dedicated several pages to the discussion of the iconographic sources of the fountain. The journalist and critic referred to Mora’s feminine sensitivity with a touch of originality. HAEDO, 1974, op. cit., pp. 22-27 and 37. See also HAEDO, Oscar Félix. Las fuentes porteñas. Buenos Aires: Municipalidad de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1978, pp. 30-33.

[6] For details on the grant, see PÁEZ DE LA TORRE, op. cit., pp. 33-35.

[7] See BLAIR MACDOUGALL, Elisabeth. Fountains, Statues, and Flowers. Studies in Italian Gardens of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1994.

[8] POLLOCK, Griselda. Differencing the Canon. Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories. London/New York: Routledge, 1999, p. 102.

[9] SUTHERLAND HARRIS, Ann. Letter to the Editor. In: ROBINSON, Hilary (ed.). Visibly Female. Feminism and Art Today. London: Camden Press, 1987, p. 226.

[10] For example, one text mentions the fountain the city of Buenos Aires was going to acquire. Una artista argentina, Caras y Caretas, August 18th, 1900, año III, núm. 98, s. p. Only Páez de la Torre and Terán deal very briefly with this issue. Lola Mora ..., op. cit., p. 64. Soon, however, Mora changed her mind and offered the fountain as a gift. “La fuente de Lola Mora”, La Prensa, September 16th, 1900. Cit. in HAEDO, Oscar Félix. Las fuentes porteñas, op. cit., p. 32.

[11] The fountain constitutes itself as an independent artistic form in Florence towards the 16th Century. See Pope-Hennessy, John. Italian High Renaissance & Baroque Sculpture. London: Phaidon Press, 2000.

[12] PULVERS, Marvin. Roman Fountains. 2000 Fountains in Rome. A Complete Collection. Roma: “L’erma” di Bretschneider, 2002.

[13] See Una artista argentina, Caras y Caretas, año III, núm. 98, August 18th, 1900, s. p. and Ornato de Buenos. La fuente de Lola Mora. Adquirida por la Municipalidad, El Diario, March 22nd, 1902, p. 1.

[14] Una donna che scolpisce statue monumentali. Lola Mora, Il Secolo XX, año 5, 1906, p. 594.

[15] La fuente de Lola Mora. Una ficción mitológica, La Nación, April 23rd, 1901, p. 3.

[16] GRIMAL, Pierre. Diccionario de mitología griega y romana. Buenos Aires, Paidós, 2004, p. 377.

[17] ELVIRA BARBA, Miguel Ángel. Arte y mito. Manual de iconografía clásica. Madrid: Sílex, 2008, p. 131.

[18] La Prensa, October 20th, 1883. Quoted by PAYRÓ, Julio E. Prilidiano Pueyrredón, Joseph Dubourdieu, la Pirámide de Mayo y la Catedral de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires: Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, 1971, p. 88.

[19] HESIOD. Theogony. See also ELVIRA, op. cit., pp. 127-128.

[20] GOMBRICH, Ernst. Objetivos y límites de la iconología. In: WOODFIELD, Richard (ed.). Gombrich esencial. Madrid: Debate, 1997, pp. 464-465.

[21] Giambologna (Fountain of Venus, circa 1570, marble, Boboli Gardens, Florence) and Giovanni Paolo Schor and Carlo Rainaldi (Bath of Venus Fountain, circa 1690, marble, Palazzo Borghese, Rome) are some of the examples.

[22] LOMAZZO, Giovanni Paolo. Trattato dell’arte della pittura, scultura et architettura. Divisso in sette libri, tomo II. Rome: Presso Saverio del-Monte, p. 191.

* Hemerography, neologism concerning research and description of journalistic material (T.N.)

* Platanus, tree belonging to the Platanaceae family, very common in Buenos Aires. Also known as London Plane or Sycamore (T.N.).

[23] La fuente de Lola Mora. Su inauguración, El Pueblo, May 22nd, 1903, p. 1.

[24] PLINY the Elder. Historia natural.

[25] WARBURG, Aby. Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Spring. An Examination of Concepts of Antiquity in the Italian Early Renaissance. In: The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity: Contributions to the Cultural History of the European Renaissance. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1999, pp. 90-111.

[26] HESIOD. Theogony.

[27] Homeric Hymn IV, to Aphrodite.

[28] LOMAZZO, op. cit., p. 364.

[29] As examples, Heinrich Keller (The Birth of Venus, circa 1799, 102,9 x 129,5 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art) and F. Finelli (Venus within a shell, circa 1900, marble, private collection).

[30] Hellenic Art, Venus Anadyomène, centuries III-II B.C., terracota, 25,9 cm, British Museum, London.

[31] GOMBRICH, Ernst H. Botticelli’s Mythologies: A Study in the Neoplatonic Symbolism of His Circle, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 8, 1945, pp. 7-60.

[32] Rafael, The Triumph of Galatea, circa 1513, fresco, Villa Farnesina, Rome.

[33] One of the first appearances of this type is found in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, where it is detailed, among other events, that the Nereids sang after the birth of the goddess. On this topic, see TAYLOR, Rabun. The Moral Mirror of Roman Art. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 40-47.

[34] Andrea Mantegna, Battle of the Sea Gods, circa 1475, engraving and drypoint, 28,3 x 82,6 cm, Chatsworth House, Chatsworth.

[35] Giorgio Vasari, The Birth of Venus, 1556-1559, fresco, Quartiere degli Elementi, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

[36] For example, Venus Anadyomène, relief, Aphrodisias Museum, Turkey, and The Projecta Casket, circa 380, incised silver, 27,9 x 54,9 cm, British Museum, London.

[37] On the other hand, in heraldry, sirens were a common element. Frequently, they held items like the coats of arms. VALERO DE BERNABÉ, Luis; MÁRQUEZ DE LA PLATA Y FERRÁNDIZ, Vicenta María. Simbología y diseño de la heráldica gentilicia galaica. Madrid: Hildalguía, 2003, pp. 210-211.

[38] GARB, op. cit., pp. 117-119. These images also proliferated in our environement, particularly in the magazine Mundo Argentino. See, for example, Feminismo, Mundo Argentino, December 11th, 1912, año II, núm. 101, s. p.

[39] Crónica, La Columna del Hogar, año II, núm. 66, August 15th, 1900, p. 356.

[40] Leandro Losada observes that the Club del Progreso was not an exclusive male domain and sporadically accepted women members. LOSADA, Leandro. La alta sociedad en la Buenos Aires de la Belle Époque: sociabilidad, estilo de vida e identidades. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI Editora Iberoamericana, 2008, p. 182.

[41] Los banquetes al Dr. Quirno Costa y Lola Mora, Caras y Caretas, año VI, núm. 248, July 4th, 1903, s. p.

[42] LUGONES, Leopoldo. La fuente de Lola Mora, Tribuna, May 27th, 1903, p. 2. Quoted in MALOSETTI COSTA, Laura (selection and forward). Cuadros de viaje. Artistas argentinos en Europa y Estados Unidos (1880-1910). Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2008, pp. 290-295.

[43] La estatua de la libertad. Su inauguración en Tucumán, La Nación, September 25th, 1904, p. 7.

[44] This hypothesis was advanced by Patricia Corsani, op. cit., p. 83. On these images, see DIJKSTRA, Bram. Ídolos de perversidad. La imagen de la mujer en la cultura de fin de siglo. Madrid: Debate, 1994.

[45] Ibidem, p. viii.

[46] SOLSONA, Justo. República Argentina. Buenos Aires. Lola Mora. In: La Ilustración Artística, año XXII, núm. 1138, October 19th, 1903, p. 686.

[47] BARRINGER, Judith M. Divine Escorts. Nereids in Archaic and Classical Greek Art. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995, p. 8.

[48] ELVIRA, op. cit., p. 136.

[49] BARRINGER, op. cit., p. 141.

[50] PLINY, op. cit.

[51] Hellenic art, statuette of Aphrodite, centuries III - II B.C, terracota, 25,9 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

[52] PÁEZ DE LA TORRE, op. cit., p. 44.

[53] Some examples are the works of the School of Fontainebleau (The bath of Venus, circa 1550, oil on canvas, 97 x 126 cm, Musée du Louvre, París), and of Giambologna (Venus, 1571-1573, marble, 114,9 cm, Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Piece intended for a fountain).

[54] Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Fountain of the Triton, 1624-1643, travertine, Piazza Barberini, Rome; Filippo Bai and Francesco Moratti, Fountain of the Tritons, 1717, marble and travertine, Piazza della Bocca della Verità, Rome.

[55] Often Mora has been qualified as an academic artist, reluctant to embrace the sculptural modernity. As with the rest of the artists of the generation of [18]80, their choices are the result of their positioning concerning the problems of art, politics and society in the environement to which they belonged. MALOSETTI COSTA, Laura. Los primeros modernos. Arte y sociedad en Buenos Aires a fines del siglo XIX. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001, p. 24.

[56] La fuente de Lola Mora, Letras y Colores, año I, núm. 3, June 15th, 1903, s. p.

[57] SCHIAFFINO, Eduardo. Fracaso del Monumento al Doctor del Valle. Antecedentes, circa 1907 (Archivo Eduardo Schiaffino, Archivo General de la Nación, Buenos Aires, Legajo 16).