February 17, 2011

Casa de Fader–Fader House

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Not far from busy downtown Mendoza is Lujan de Cuyo, a sleepy suburb dotted with wineries, restaurants and private residences.  It's also home to the Casa de Fader, Mendoza's Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum).  In 1889, the Casa de Fader was a derelict mansion surrounded by almost 200 acres of tangled vineyards and overgrown orchards.  Wealthy couple Emiliano Guiñazú and his wife Narciza Araujo bought the mansion as their summer home and began restoration.  The mansion became a social center of Mendoza high society in the early 20th century. 

A notable improvement was hiring the artist Fernando Fader to paint a number of murals throughout the residence.  Though born in France, Fader moved to Argentina at age three and was raised in Mendoza.  His mother was French viscountess Celia de Bonneval, and his father was a German naval engineer important in Mendoza industry for introducing the first pipelines and gas lines to the city.  Fader left Argentina as a young man to study art in Europe, returning in 1905. 

Guiñazú met young Fader through various social events, and hired him to paint four murals in his home.  He began the project in 1906, and completed it in 1915.  However, the Post-Impressionist painter was doing more than painting–he was also courting Guiñazú's daughter, Adele.  The pair married in a lavish ceremony in the mansion's gardens.  During this time, Fader's own father died, leaving him to settle the family debts–which resulted in bankruptcy.  However, things were looking up for young Fader–his work had just been exhibited in Buenos Aires to rousing success.  He spent the next decade painting and touring Europe.

By age 33, Fader had developed Tuberculosis.  The family moved to the drier climate of Cordoba, where he continued to paint despite his condition.  He died at age 52, leaving behind his wife, Adele, and their three children.  Guiñazú himself died in 1945, and his widow donated the mansion and its grounds to the government as a fine arts museum which opened in 1951.

Today, the museum is the perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon, strolling through the grounds or exploring the collections inside the museum.  The museum houses four collections–from Fader and other Argentinean artists to international artworks; while the garden is full of reproductions of famous statuary.  The museum is used by many students as a learning museum, while residents and visitors alike enjoy the beautiful mansion and gardens.

The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 8:30am-7:00pm and Saturday and Sunday from 3:00pm-8:00pm, with guided tours Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  Phone: 54 (261) 4960224   Address: San Martín 3651 Av. – Mayor Drummond – Luján de Cuyo.

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