Blanes Museum

Local Friend: Gustavo

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  • Montevideo

About Gustavo

A kind, caring, peaceful and naturalist boy who loves to discover new places and meeting people different cultures. I usually host people at home all over the world, so I'm always ready to help in any way I can and to learn something of each single person. I have a wide and diverse set of interests, and I love to make trips around the city, organizing events, share long conversations and being up for new challenges and experiences.

About Blanes Museum

The Juan Manuel Blanes Municipal Museum of the Arts is located some distance the center of Montevideo but the trek there is worth it. Housed in a gorgeous mansion, you can begin to understand the present-day culture of the country, and the works of the artists on permanent exhibition give much insight into the Uruguay’s rather mysterious past.<br><br>To get there Blvd. Espana or Blvd. Artigas in Pocitos, take the 183 bus line. You’ll enjoy a nice tour through Montevideo’s various neighborhoods before being delivered to Milan Avenue, directly in front of the Blanes Museum. Stone sculptures on either side of the wide driveway observe the guests as they enter the grounds. The yard accompanying the mansion is filled with towering trees, their branches shading the benches below.<br><br>As you climb the marble steps, pass the Grecian-like columns, and enter into the majestic home, you can almost hear a soundtrack of fervent candombe drumming mixed with the marching beat of the Uruguayan national anthem. Inside the museum, you’ll find permanent exhibitions of two of Uruguay’s most celebrated artists—Juan Manuel Blanes and Pedro Figari. The two are well known not only for the aesthetic beauty of their work but also for their immense contribution to the culture and the history of the nation.<br><br>Juan Manuel Blanes, born in 1830, was the darling of the politicians of the time. Although he painted many noteworthy portraits, which can be seen at the museum, two massive paintings dominate his exhibition. The first, Juramento de los Treinte y Tres Orientales, is a fictitious scene. Translated as “The Oath of the 33 Orientals”, it chronicles the moment in 1877 when Captain Lavalleja and his compatriots landed on the Rocha coast to first plant the “Liberty or Die” flag. It is a scene of handsome rugged soldiers and noble and almost savage gauchos. They say that this was an important moment in the Uruguayan struggle for independence but it is now known that the scene did not happen in such a grandiose and elegant way; the “33 Orientales” were in fact a bedraggled group of less than 20 men, some in their early teens.<br><br>The second painting, La Revista de 1885, is an artistic fanfare of President Maximo Santos and his retinue. Covering a whole wall, the painting is set in the Independence Plaza, and is composed of multiple portraits of proud soldiers on horseback. The masterpiece inspires a sense of grandeur and awe, yet the scene is fictitious. In the background, Blanes has painted the well-known statue of Artigas on horseback, however, strangely, there are certain differences between the painted version and the actual statue, which now sits on the plaza. The painting predates the real thing: Blanes painted the statue while the project for the statue was still in the planning stage. Nonetheless, the paintings are worthy of much admiration<br><br>Pedro Figari could be considered the antithesis of Blanes as he documented Uruguay’s history in such a different way. Born in 1861, Figari become a lawyer and worked as an advocate for the poor. He was instrumental in the abolition of the death sentence in Uruguay, and his paintings reflect his values. Primarily, his figures are not recognizable individuals. They are common people in their daily lives. He painted country folk in their homes, in funerals, and at work. He painted emancipated slaves in their tenement housing, in parties, and at the carnival. Known for his passion for candombe music, the figures in Figari’s paintings are brightly colored, so full of vitality that their limbs seem to be almost elastic with movement. Although he did not completely dedicate himself to painting until he was in his sixties, his passion was evident. In the estimated 4,000 paintings he created, his aim was clear—to paint sensations, to depict pure energy of life instead of realistic scenes.<br><br>The legacies left by Pedro Figari and Juan Blanes are extremely important. While Figari has encouraged the celebration of Uruguay’s unique folk culture, Blanes has encouraged patriotism and zeal for the country.