Botanical Gardens – what was the fuss over the statue

I went to the Botanical Gardens (more about them in another post) but first a rather interesting story about one of the statues. The gardens have many statues but one in particular stands out. It;s called Saturnalia, The statue dates back to the 19th century and was created by an Italian sculpture called Ernesto Biondi. The statue represents 10 life size figures depicting a cross section of ancient Roman society from the very poor classes to the very rich. It was described by Lorado Taft who was at the time a preeminent sculpture critic “epitomized cruelly. but not unjustly, the trend of contemporary sculpture in Italy, with all its misplaced effort and its incredible, if not to say fiendish, dexterity”.

The sculpture found its way to Argentina when an ambassador saw it displayed in Italy and decided to purchase it. It was apparently no mean feat to get it through customs. It was initially displayed privately and was not considered suitable to be shown in public, When the ambassador died in the 70’s the statue was donated by his children to the state. Unfortunately, at the time the dictatorship was in power and considered the theme of the statue obscene and it was consequently hidden away for a few years. Finally, it ended up displayed in the botanical gardens (its not the original though).