Skip to content

buenos aires: monumento al cid campeador

Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

Nestled into the center of a busy intersection in Caballito, surrounding buildings dwarf a statue of El Cid Campeador by American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. Traffic noise also prevents any quiet contemplation of my personal favorite statue… but that can be avoided by going early on Sunday mornings for a look at this fantastic piece of public art, cleaned & restored in 2006:

Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

Anna Hyatt Huntington was a force to be reckoned with. Born in 1876, she had little formal training but managed to make a living & earn recognition for her work in the early 20th century… almost unheard of for a woman of that era. Anyone interested in Huntington’s career should read the transcript of a 1964 interview posted in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Fascinating insight. She does not seem very expressive or sentimental about her long & successful career, but her love of animals is easy to read between the lines. She was also committed to detail… probably the aspect I enjoy most about her work. Her sculptures are so lifelike & beautifully capture one moment in time.

Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

The El Cid sculpture resulted from her marriage to Archer Milton Huntington —heir to a railroad fortune, poet, & promoter of Spanish culture. He founded the Hispanic Society of America in New York City in 1904 & the first copy of El Cid was placed there in 1923. Archer Huntington had translated “El Cantar del Mío Cid” & his work inspired Anna to adopt Spanish themes in her sculpture.

Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

Always surrounded by traffic, the original base for the BA copy was different. The 1956 book “Buenos Aires” with photographs from Grete Stern shows an Art Deco base which likely corresponds to the original 1935 placement. No info is available as why the base was changed or when it happened. The second photo below comes from the 1935 Memorial Municipal de Buenos Aires… the base seems a bit high to appreciate the statue:

Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington
Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

When I originally wrote this in 2011, not all sources agreed to the number of El Cid copies & their placement around the world. With four recognized copies in the United States (NYC, San Francisco, San Diego & DC) plus two in Spain (Sevilla, below, & Valencia), it seems like the Buenos Aires version had been forgotten by English language media. There was no mention of the BA copy in Wikipedia or any other source I consulted online… fortunately that has since been corrected. Local Spanish immigrants provided the funding for this particular copy, much like the donation of the Monumento de los Españoles in Palermo. Furthermore, Huntington mentions in her interview that the people of Valencia made their own copy (confirmed in comments). Hopefully there are no more unknown copies out there!

España, Sevilla, El Cid, Anna Hyatt Huntington

While I confess to being a big fan of Huntington’s work, sometimes your idols let you down. Part of her interview turned out to be disturbing. She was an unashamed supporter of Francisco Franco, saying:

…until this man Franco came in who has given Spain twenty-five years I think now of peace. In spite of the fact that people decry him and all that sort of thing, he’s really been excellent for Spain. It’s the first time they’re had twenty-five years of peace in Spain and more or less prosperity.

Franco even planned to have statues made of the Huntingtons. Although she admits to being very conservative, supporting a dictator is a bit too much. Then again, art isn’t just about the final work displayed to the public… it is also the process & the people behind it.

Update (10 Jun 2011): Continuing to search for information about the BA copy, the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Library has a large archive of personal records donated by Anna Hyatt Huntington. Their speedy reply to my inquiry was encouraging… two photographs of the BA copy are in the archive. One is a full shot of the sculpture with its original base & the other is detail of the inauguration plaque. Although no dates were written on the back of the photos, the engraving on the plaque states:

El Cid Campeador, Encarnacion del Heroismo y Espiritu Caballeresco de la Raza. Estatua donada por su Autora Anna Hyatt de Huntington, Inaugurada el 13 de Octubre de 1935 por El Centro Argentino de La Union Ibero Americana.

Yea! A date to work with. The next step would be to comb through local newspapers the day after the unveiling. And surprisingly, there’s nothing in Google about La Unión Iberoamericana… another mystery. Due to copyright & ownership rules, the only way to obtain copies of those two photos is to spend 100 USD for each. I love y’all, but U$S 200 is a bit much. Donations kindly accepted 🙂

Update (05 Jun 2012): Thanks to a link from Miguel, the Valencia copy is dated 1964 & was made by none other than Juan de Ávalos. Responsible for a large number of sculptures mainly in Spain, his biggest & most famous work can be found in Valle de los Caídos: a working monastery near El Escorial that houses the tombs of Franco, Fascist/Falange party founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera & some 10,000 soldiers from the Spanish Civil War:

Spain, España, Valle de los Caídos, Juan de Ávalos, Pietà

I wonder how he made the copy & who funded it. More questions to be answered!

Also during a recent trip to the Biblioteca Nacional in Argentina, the only article I could find of the statue’s dedication was in the newspaper “El Mundo” on 13 Oct 1935. Oddly enough, they do not mention who donated the statue or Huntington:

El Mundo, 13 Oct 1935, El Cid

Update (26 Nov 2012): Thanks to info provided by a local from Sevilla (see comments), their copy of El Cid is being restored. Excellent news. They also had a webpage dedicated to conservation efforts (no longer online) but their Facebook page has several historic photos of the statue… including a couple from the making of the 1964 Valencia copy! The results are fantastic.

Sevilla, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington
Sevilla, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

Update (13 Feb 2014): This post has the most updates of any I’ve written! During a recent trip to NYC, I was able to visit the Hispanic Society of America & see the 1923 original in person. Made of a different material, its color matches the hue of surrounding buildings, & the four warriors who accompany El Cid make this version my favorite so far. Its placement is also superior than any other I’ve seen because nearby steps allow for an ideal view.

NYC, Hispanic Society of America, El Cid, Anna Hyatt Huntington
NYC, Hispanic Society of America, El Cid, Anna Hyatt Huntington
NYC, Hispanic Society of America, El Cid, Anna Hyatt Huntington

12 thoughts on “buenos aires: monumento al cid campeador”

  1. Hi Robert!
    Amazing. Only last week I paid attention to this Cid statue in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Thanks to you, I discover it’s a “cousin” of my very own Buenos Aires Cid! by the same sculptor.
    Small world.
    Regards and, as always, thanks!

    1. Hi Daniel! I’ve been to San Diego a couple of times but unfortunately never made it to Balbao Park. I really love her work… the veins in the horse, the chain metal detail, the flag. Exquisite. Saludos!

  2. Pingback: Daily Url, June 9 - Baexpats - Community of Expatriates in Buenos Aires, Argentina

    1. Gracias Miguel! Interesante dato que hizo la copia Juan de Ávalos… Hyatt Huntington era más facista que pensaba! Saludos desde Buenos Aires.

    1. Wow… qué hallazgo! Me encantó ver los trabajos del monumento proyectado para los Huntington y la muestra en NYC. Paul Manship es otro escultor que me fascina y saber que impulsó la muestra de Ávalos es alucinante. Gracias!

  3. ¡Mecache! Haber sabido cuando estuve en Valencia que estaba esa copia. Me la perdí. Linda entrada Robert, para mí que vivo a cuatro cuadras del monumento es muy informativa.

    1. Bueno, hay que volver!! 🙂 Hace más de 10 años que no piso en Valencia y no pude confirmar que habia una copia hasta ahora. Gracias por el comentario y por casualidad, creo que te vi justo ahí en febrero. Como que no estaba seguro que fue vos, no dije nada pero estabas llevando una bolsa grande de comida para perros… o tu gemelo jajaja Abrazo!

  4. Hola. Soy española, de Sevilla, donde está la segunda copia del Cid de Ana Hyatt. Curiosamente el mes pasado se ha restaurado nuestro queridísimo Caballo. Curiosamente están ciado en la sevillana Glorieta de San Diego y curiosamente yo me acabo de trasladar a vivir a esta ciudad, San Diego (CA). Muchas casualidades, no? Durante su restauración ha estado cubierta con unos paneles en los que se veía entre otras cosas una foto de los trabajos de Juan de Ávalos mientras sacaba el molde para la de Valencia. El Ayuntamiento de Sevilla ha habilitado una web dónde podéis encontrar más info.

    Yo me fui a Balboa Park a los tres días de llegar a S.D. Para verlo y fotografiarlo. Maravilloso, aunque luce más en Sevilla con su pedestal más alto. Por lo que veo también en BA. Las inscripciones que hay a ambos lados del pedestal en Sevilla son las siguientes: La primera de ellas alude directamente a la relación del Cid con la ciudad de Sevilla, dice así:

    “Sevilla, dorada corte del rey Motamid hospedó a Mío Cid, embajador de Alfonso VI, y le vio volver victorioso del rey de Granada”.

    La segunda es una cita de Ibn Bassam:

    “El Campeador, terrible calamidad para el Islam, fue, por la viril firmeza de su carácter y por su heroica energía, uno de los grandes milagros del Creador”.

    Espero haber sido de utilidad. Saludos

  5. Hola Marian – Qué linda noticia que han restaurado El Cid en Sevilla!! Hace un par de años que no voy… la verdad, es un poco difícil de sacar una buena foto de la copia sevillana por el transito. Está bien bien ubicada para que todo el mundo la vea pero no tanto para sacar fotos jeje

    Y nunca me acerqué a ver la base. Gracias por los datos!!

    Si bien conozco San Diego, nunca fui a Balboa Park. Unos amigos que viven ahí me han enviado fotos y estoy de acuerdo con vos: necesita una base más grande para lucir mejor. De nuevo, gracias, y espero sacar más fotos el año que viene cuando vuelva a España!! Saludos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *