Palacio de Bellas Artes--page 1 (of three pages)

Adamo Boari and Federico Mariscal
1904-13; 1934 completed

Commissioned by President Porfirio Diaz, the building has a complicated construction history. Although it was begun in 1905 under the Italian architect Adamo Boari, the heavy marble edifice sank into the subsoil. Construction was also interrupted by the Mexican Revolution. Eventually, with a new architect, Federico Mariscal, the building was eventually completed in 1934. The exterior, designed by Boari is a combination of both classical and art nouveau styles while the interior, designed later, is in the then more modern art deco style. The sculptures are by a number of different European artists.

A grand palace of the arts

Like many major metropolitan cities, Mexico City boasts a gleaming white marble building for theater and opera-goers. See, for example, Garnier's famous Paris Opera or even the distant French-influenced Hanoi Opera House.

The central lunette and grand dome

The concrete dome is covered with painted ceramic and has copper-covered ribs.

Architectural sculpture decorating the facade

The official site for the Palacio Bellas Artes cites Leonardo Bistolfi as the sculptor for the lunette relief as well as the free-standing sculptures above it. Thematically, these works are unified since the lunette entitled Birth of Venus depicts “Harmony” and the sculptures above it "Music" and “Inspiration.” See details of these free-standing works below.

Symbolic sculptures by the Hungarian Géza Marotti

The sculpture on the dome combines the political/national with the aesthetic--the national symbol of Mexico (occurring on the flag as well): an eagle perched on a cactus, eating a serpent and below personifications of comedy, tragedy, drama, and lyrical drama.

Sculptures in niches flanking the entrance

If you know the identity (titles) of these works and/or the sculptor, please send me an email.

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© 2010 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.