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09.04.2009

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Fountain of Diana the Huntress
Reforma Avenue / Images of Reforma Avenue / Other attractions

Address: Reforma Avenue corner Sevilla
Neighborhood: Reforma Avenue
Subway: Sevilla


The Fountain of Diana the Huntress, one of the most representative sculptural works of Mexican art, has an interesting history; it reflects political, social and cultural changes in Mexico City, a city that has adopted it as one of its most precious urban symbols.

The sculpture of Diana the Huntress, whose real name is “The Nothern Star Shooter”, begins its history in 1942, when the president of Mexico Manuel Ávila Camacho, through the Federal District regent Javier Rojo Gómez, started a program to beautify the city; this program included the creation of several monumental fountains that would be placed on roundabouts or important street corners. Among the ones that still remain, there is one in Plaza California in the Del Valle district and another, the Petrol Fountain, in Lomas de Chapultepec. The architect Vicente Mendiola and the sculptor Juan Olaguíbel were commissioned to build one of these fountains for a roundabout that was located in Reforma Avenue, near the entrance to Chapultepec. The theme that was selected was Diana, the roman goddess of hunting, but in this fountain, this goddess, instead of hunting beasts in the forests with her bow, would now hunt the stars of the northern skies, hence the name of the sculpture. As a model for the sculpture, Helvia Martínez Verdayes was selected, a 16 year old girl that worked in the afternoons as a secretary in the offices of PEMEX. The sculpture was made from April to September of 1942, month in which it was finally cast in bronze. During all this time, Helvia Martínez Verdayes posed nude for the sculptor without receiving other payment than the vanity of seeing her body immortalized in one of the most beautiful avenues in the city.

The Fountain of the Northern Star Shooter, was inaugurated on October 10th 1942 and from that moment gained the public’s affection, who started to call her “Diana the Huntress”, but in that time it also received criticism from the most ultraconservative sectors in Mexican society, being the “Decency League” which a year later, after a series of protesting acts that included putting fabric underwear on the sculpture, accomplished their goal by forcing Juan Olaguíbel to put bronze underpants on his work. Nevertheless, anticipating more liberal times, the artist fixed it by only welding three points, in hopes of being able to remove them later.

With the passing years the mentality of Mexican society started to evolve and, taking advantage of the Mexico ’68 Olympic Games’ celebrations, the regent Alfonso Corona del Rosal, in response to a petition by Juan Olaguíbel, decided to remove the bronze underpants from the sculpture, nevertheless the statue suffered some damage. It was decided a new sculpture would be cast to take the original’s place, while the damaged one was sold to the regent by Olaguíbel so it wouldn’t be destroyed; the regent then donated the piece to Ixmiquilpan, his native town, where it has remained since 1970.

In 1974, because of the work being done in the Circuito Interior, the Fountain of Diana the Huntress was moved to its original location in Ariel Park, to one side of the place where the Torre Mayor stands today. In this place it remained practically hidden for 18 years, until in 1987 a group of artists and intellectuals demanded the re-location of Diana the Huntress to the roundabout that forms on the crossing of Paseo de la Reforma and Sevilla Street. This petition was backed by the citizens, and they all managed to convince the government to re-locate it on August 5th 1992 to its inaugural roundabout where it remains to this day.

This is how the history of this sculpture has developed, a monument to women, a monument to the beauty of the human body, a monument to freedom.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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