Caiana Revista académica de investigación en Arte y cultura visual

Caiana Nro7

Laurens Dhaenens

Mapping the Texts and Travels of Eduardo Schiaffino between 1882 and 1891: A Study of An Itinerary between Countries, Languages, Perspectives and Positions

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Schiaffino - Cultural Mediator


In a draft of an unpublished autobiography preserved at the Archivo General de la Nación, Eduardo Schiaffino (1858-1935) (Fig. 1) sketched his life from his birth up until his return from Europe to Buenos Aires in 1933. He described his family history, his institutional achievements and his work as a diplomat in diverse European capitals. He did not elaborate to any great extent on his artistic practice. The development of his art is woven into these other dominant narratives. As a result, only two paintings are mentioned. The same is true of his activity as a critic. He referred to his seminal article Apuntes sobre el arte en Buenos Aires. Falta de protección para su desenvolvimiento, published in El Diario in 1883, and his correspondence from Europe, published in the newspapers El Diario and Sud-América between 1884 and 1891, yet gave most attention to his publications after 1910. Moreover, when he addressed his role as a correspondent for El Diario, he accentuated the financial benefit and the political conflict that obliged him to switch from one newspaper to another, rather than the socio-cultural importance of his texts.[1]


The image that the autobiographical document projects is that of a cosmopolitan artist with almost no oeuvre, but who had an important role in the creation of the cultural field in Buenos Aires. Commemorative articles, published just after his death in 1935, sustain this image, with representations of Schiaffino as one of “aquellos hombres que hubieron de hacerlo todo, desde formar la propia cultura hasta hacer comprender a los demás que era preciso dar a los valores espirituales un lugar preferente en la vida argentina”.[2]His subsequent historiographical destiny was, however, less laudative. As Laura Malosetti Costa pointed out, surveys such as El arte de los argentinos by José León Pagano present him as a mediocre painter and a ‘dictator of taste’, who exercised his power over the incipient art scene from diverse institutional positions.[3] In this spiral of criticism, the figure of Schiaffino fell into oblivion until roughly two decades ago, when a new wave of research on Argentine art revisited and revaluated his significance for the cultural history of the country.


Today, Schiaffino is considered as the first historiographer of Argentine art,[4] one of the most modern painters of his generation,[5] an urbanist[6] and a vital figure in the incipient art market, exhibition circuits and the formation of private and public collections at the turn of the century.[7] Notwithstanding this recent repositioning, the need for an in-depth study of his artistic work that Malosetti Costa already formulated in 2001 is still valid.[8] Since then, only a few of his art works have been the subject of thorough research.[9] Moreover, it is important to consider the absence of the art works in historiographies not just as a demand to identify and study his works of art, but also to reconsider the dimension of the oeuvre. In that sense, the studies of scholars such as José Emilio Burucúa, Ana Telesca and Malosetti Costa have suggested his texts –or a part of them– as a creative body of work, and not just as sources of information.[10]


Stretching the scope of his artistic work inevitably leads to problems of classification, an issue that surfaces implicitly and explicitly in many studies on the artist. The versatility of Schiaffino’s activities defies any exclusive categorisation as a painter, a critic, a writer or an art manager avant la lettre. Instead, it calls for an umbrella concept that positions him in the cultural field, but that does not omit the diversity of his practices or simplify his role in the creation of the national art scene. Hence, studying his texts written between 1882 and 1891, I would like to approach Schiaffino as a ‘cultural mediator’, following the definition of Reine Meylaerts and Maud Gonne in their study Transferring the city–transgressing borders: Cultural Mediators in Antwerp (1850-1930). Looking at “complex patterns of interaction in multilingual contexts”, the authors describe cultural mediators as “cultural agents” who “develop a broad range of partly overlapping transfer activities through different cultural fields (literature, painting, music), different languages and spatial frontiers”. They outline the figure of the mediator, listing three general characteristics:


Firstly, cultural mediators undertake a variety of discursive transfer techniques. They are multilingual authors, self-translators, or translators who translate, adapt, plagiarize, summarize, censor, manipulate, etc. in various ways a variety of products of allophone linguistic communities: poems, novels, songs, theatre plays, opera librettos, serial novels. [...] Secondly, mediators are often active in a variety of more or less institutionalized intercultural and inter-artistic networks. They may have corresponded with colleagues (informal networks) or may have founded or taken an active part in the editorial boards of magazines and periodicals, in salons, in literary and artistic associations, in art and music academies, in artists' workshops, in reading circles etc. [...] Finally, a mediator can be considered a real migrant, a hybrid person, who develops transfer activities in several geo-cultural spaces, which considerably sharpens his or her intercultural and international consciousness.[11]


The authors thus situate the activities of cultural mediators in the space between disciplines, languages and cultures and within intricate international networks. In the case of Schiaffino, this relates to the combination of an art practice, literary, journalistic and historiographical activities, and the work and responsibilities of a museum director, an exhibition organiser and a member of various associations and commissions. As the autobiography emphasises, he thereby travelled widely and, in line with his contemporaries, found in the cultural history of Europe models that he wanted to transfer to his home country in order to establish an artistic field that was both modern and national. Viewing the foundation of a national modern art in Argentina at large, Malosetti Costa speaks of “a play of perspectives, towards and from abroad”.[12]


In the terminology used by Meylaerts and Gonne, Schiaffino can be considered “a real migrant’” in the sense that his activities transcended national borders and united diverse geo-cultural spaces. However, looking at the context of the South-American country at the end of the century, the idea of “a real migrant” has its limitations. In a society where between 1881 and 1914 more than 4,200,000 immigrants arrived, it does not clarify the complex position of cultural mediators. As a result of the enormous influx, a “migrant-reality” marked everyday life in the capital. What the authors call “intercultural and international consciousness” was part of the national cultural condition and shaped the society in a myriad of ways. Therefore, I would like to refer to the figure of “the cosmopolitan” rather than “the migrant”.[13] In her study, Rubén Darío: viajes de un cosmopolita extremo, Graciela Montaldo described “ser cosmopolita” as


ser versátil, ser una suerte de interlocutor absoluto, poder comunicarse con todos (con los iguales, con los diferentes, con los saberes particularizados y especializados pero también con la doxa) desde un espacio de enunciación que quería abarcarlo todo y que se constituía como lugar de poder.[14]


The conceptual analogy between “the cosmopolitan” and “the cultural mediator” that emerges in these scholarly definitions accentuates the element of versatility, without, however, any tautological implication. The notion of “cultural mediator” refers to a theoretical framework, grounded in the study of cultural transfers, whereas the cosmopolitan refers to a historical figure whose lifestyle stood out because of a worldly movement and knowledge. Schiaffino’s ability to travel swiftly between places, disciplines and languages –a privileged intellectual movement that was defined by, and embedded in, social structures– facilitated his mediation in the creation of a national art scene. His activities during his early European stay illustrate this: between 1884 and 1891, Schiaffino studied fine arts at diverse academies in Venice and Paris, participated in exhibitions in Europe and Buenos Aires, travelled widely, worked as a correspondent for Buenos Aires newspapers and, as he pointed out in his autobiography, developed himself as a connoisseur of ancient European art for Argentine collectors. In brief, Schiaffino managed to be absent and present in his home country at the same time, using strategically diverse media.


The Concept of Cultural Transfer


The study of cultural mediators in art history poses diverse methodological problems. One of the most challenging is the meaning of the concept of “cultural transfer”. In a recent reflection on this notion, Michel Espagne, who together with Michael Werner first coined the term in the 1980s,[15] explains the concept by translating transférer as métamorphoser, instead of transporter: “c’est moins la circulation des biens culturels que leur réinterprétation que est en jeu”.[16] As such, Espagne positions the study of cultural transfers as the study of cultural hybridity and métissage that opens possibilities to write transnational histories. Consequently, he also argues to leave behind binary models and traditional comparative research methods, for these fail to clarify the significance of places, objects, traditions, etc. as constructed entities embedded in a history of travel and transformation. To that regard, he proposes for example replacing the concept of “centre”, which suggests the existence of a periphery, with notions such as portails de globalisation, where numerous cultures meet, and portails sur la globalité,where the global becomes accessible, for example libraries and universities.[17]


Meylaerts and Gonne rephrase Espagne’s criticism on binaries, but with the nuance that it is important to analyse “how traditional concepts routinely obscure complex practices of cultural mediation”.[18] Discussing the relation between writers and translators, they reveal the fluid borders between these roles when it comes to the hybrid practices of cultural mediation. In brief, they claim that: “[o]riginality and creativity are no longer to be located exclusively at the author’s side but are interwoven with multilingual writing and self-translating and thus also with translating”.[19]


The image of a fluid reality that the study of cultural transfers discloses paradoxically also represents the state of the concept. Since the eighties, the concept itself travels and is transformed between disciplines. In his work on “assumed transfers”, Lieven D’hulst observes, for example, how in social and cultural anthropology the focus tends to be more on the transfer of human beings, whereas in literature the research subject is mostly the transfer of “verbal and artistic products”. D’hulst reads a “semantic vagueness” and an “easy of associating it with appealing and widespread topoi such as interculturality, hybridization, migration or globalization” in the multiple use of the concept.[20] To overcome oblique applications, he argues for a nuanced approach to transfers by examining “concrete cases, set out by well-designed historical research programs and conducted within a shared methodological framework”.[21]


The critique of D’hulst is but one of the many that feeds current debates on the topic. In their publication on the artistic relations between Europe and Asia, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Michael North recapitulate the most prevailing criticism, going from Peter Burke’s suggestion to talk of “exchange” rather than “transfer”, the claim of post-colonial studies to reconsider the Eurocentric origins of the notion, to the emergence of concepts such as “entangled history” and histoire croisée.[22] In the framework of this paper I will not unravel this conceptual knot, but instead briefly look at the junction of a spatial art history with the study of cultural transfers as formulated in the work of DaCosta Kaufmann.


A key figure of the spatial turn in art history, DaCosta Kaufmann devotes a large part of his work to the re-examination of the relationship between time and space in the history of art. In particular, he probes into the significance of places in historiographies, uncovering what could be understood as a geography of art. Yet, he prefers the term a geohistory of art, evoking the tradition of la geographie humaine. In line with this school of thought, DaCosta Kaufmann complements the spatial focus with considerable attention for human agency and historicity. In geographical terms, he summarises this methodology as an “idiographic” approach “that emphasize[s] specific places as sites where processes and factors are actually evinced”.[23]


From this perspective, DaCosta Kaufmann revisits cultural phenomena in diverse parts of the world, looking into transfer theories and concepts such as diffusionism, acculturation, transculturation, mestizaje and syncretism. Unveiling a variety of cultural transfers, he pointed out the limitations of concepts to capture their complexity, including that of the notion of cultural transfer itself.[24] In his essay on the Japanese fumi-e, objects displaying Christian imagery that had to be trampled on as an act of cultural reversal, he contradicts the idea of the study of cultural transfers being the study of cultural hybrids, concluding that fumi-e “result not from cultural fusion, but rather from rejection and misapprehension”.[25]


DaCosta Kaufmann’s geohistorical model offers a framework to revise the place of artworks, art practices and artists in the history of art and to question central conceptions that inform our ideas about art history and cultural history in general. In relation to the study of cultural transfers, it projects a multiplicity of types that demands, in line with D’hulst’s claim, concentration on concrete case-studies. Emphasising elements of human agency, it also urges, to reset the balance between the spatial aspect of circulation and that of “transformation”, and, to look beyond the transfers and focus on the people who incorporate them.


This study is grounded on the geohistorical model. Focusing on the texts written between 1882 and 1891, it first outlines Schiaffino’s activity as a writer chronologically, to then uncover its geography. This mapping forms a starting point to study some of the aspects of Schiaffino’s “mediation”, in the sense of moving between disciplines, nations and languages. In particular, it analyses how the condition of travelling in Europe manifests itself in his texts. As such, it studies his reflections on modern travel, the impact of writing while travelling and the negotiation of identities that his “travel condition” engendered. Looking at the travel-text relationship, it also zooms in on his discourse on fine art, revealing the paradoxical image of Schiaffino denying the profile of an art critic, while being devoted to the “crítica artística”.


Mapping Schiaffino’s Early Writings between 1882 and 1891


During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the literary field in Buenos Aires experienced important transformations. Alejandra Laera describes this moment as


en el que aquello que ya se reconoce como literatura, de los ensayos y las crónicas periodísticas a las novelas y el teatro, produce un amplio y diverso repertorio de imágenes, espacios, tipos, historias, clasificaciones y modos de nombrar que se instalarán largamente en el imaginario nacional.[26]


The circulation of this “new repertoire”, she explains, coincided with the revision and exploration of first-person genres, such as the memoir and the travel story; the modernisation of the press, for example in the creation of the folletín and the crónica; and lastly the emergence of a range of publications that derive from scientific fields, but which do not necessarily have the intention to be scientific.[27]


Incipient activities of writing about art and the foundation of visual art publications formed part of these literary changes. In a society where there was no institutionalised art scene, printed text constituted a vital platform to discuss the construction and conception of a national art. Newspapers such as La Nación, El Diario, Sud-América, La Crónica, La Opinión, El Nacional and La Patria Argentina became the stage for cultural criticism that directed itself towards politicians and the public. Artists, critics and intellectuals reflected on the development of “taste”, the creation of a national art, the foundation of museums and galleries and the practice of art criticism.[28] In this process the imaginative played an important role, going from projecting idealised images of what Argentine art should look like to imaginative travels and that which Schiaffino coined “la galería de la imaginación, que poseen todos aquellos a quienes la pintura impresiona”.[29]


The first magazine exclusively devoted to fine arts was El arte en el Plata. It was founded in 1876 by the Sociedad Estímulo de Bellas Artes (SEBA),but had only the lifespan of one issue due to financial issues.[30] After 1876 there is a gap until 1880 when La Ilustración Argentina (LIA) came into existence. In this period, La Gaceta Musical formed a temporary platform for the SEBA with Santiago Vaca Guzman as the main collaborator, who was also the former director of El arte en el Plata and artistic collaborator and critic of LIA.[31] The cultural criticism of these magazines complemented the articles and vivid discussions on art that appeared sporadically in the newspapers.[32]


Schiaffino debuted in this field as a reporter and a translator. His first article that can be identified is “La fotografía en Buenos Aires”, a short informative piece that summarises photography practices in the capital. It was published in El Nacional on 29 May 1882 and signed with the pseudonym “ZigZag”.[33] In the same newspaper, during the same year, he also published an article on the life and death of the American outlaw Jesse James (“Los bandoleros en Estados Unidos: Jesse James”, 30 May 1882), a raving review of the opera production Les Huguenots at Teatro Colón (“Los Hugonotes”, 2 June 1882), a reportage of a train accident (“Los dos descarrilamientos, 30 June 1882) and an account of his “viaje de reporter” around the city (“Alrededor de la ciudad”, 1 November 1882).[34] The latter in particular is significant because his critical stance towards urbanisation anticipates his later rejection of the uncontrolled expansion of the city and the consequences for the authentic landscape, such as the disappearance of the countryside and “el hogar indígena”.


Besides working for El Nacional, Schiaffino contributed to the satirical magazine Cascabel[35]and the newspaper La Opinión, writing about quotidian phenomena and translating texts, including a part of Théophile Gautier’s Le Club des hachichins and of Alexandre Dumas’ Une Execution Capitale.[36] In February 1883, he began publishing in El Diario. This was the beginning of a long-term collaboration and a shift in his focus. Schiaffino moved away from common political and cultural facts and events and began to focus on art, nevertheless maintaining his broad socio-political perspective. In these early texts, the artworks often serve to address greater issues. For example, in his article “A propósito del arte”, a drawing by Sívori of the forest of Palermo, which received an honourable mention in a Paris magazine, brought him to revisit the forest and expose the conflict between the city and the countryside.[37] This kind of rhetoric is also to be found in his José Miguel Pallejá review, in which the description of a portrait of the poet Carlos Guido y Spano (1827-1918) results in an imaginary encounter between the poet, Théophile Gautier and Victor Hugo.[38] Through these projected narratives, Schiaffino rendered images political, supporting his claim of the significance of a national modern art as an essential element of the development of the nation.[39]


Schiaffino discourse reached an early culmination point in a series of articles, published in September 1883 in El Diario, under the title Apuntes sobre el arte en Buenos Aires. Falta de protección para su desenvolvimiento. This corpus of texts is a critical analysis of the cultural condition of the capital and contains the first historiography of art in Argentina.[40] As a landmark text, it voices a set of ideas that he and other figures in the field defended in words and images during the following decades. In brief, it demanded a kind of government protection and responsibility for the arts that went beyond awarding grants to study in Europe: the state had to found a public gallery, alter the high import taxes on art and involve artists in the process of nation building by commissioning monuments, decorations and artworks.


Shortly after publishing the Apuntes, Schiaffino received a scholarship to study art in Europe. In 1884, he travelled to Venice where he enrolled at the Royal Academy. In search of a more modern environment, he moved to Paris one year later to study with Raphael Collin and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. During this period, from 1884 until 1891, he wrote forty-three texts of which twenty-seven were published in El Diario and sixteen in Sud-América. All texts were written from Europe, except five that were published during a temporary stay in Buenos Aires in 1889.[41] This ‘”European production” is thematically diverse. Schiaffino did not direct himself to one specific subject, but wrote about the world at large. His articles deal among other things with urban life, landscapes, exhibitions, artists, local traditions, theatre, opera, aesthetics and the death of José Aguyari and of Victor Hugo.


The select source for the study of these texts, and of Schiaffino’s activity in general, is the Schiaffino archive preserved in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and in the Archivo General de la Nación. It contains numerous articles, correspondences (often including a draft of the letter he wrote), notebooks, drafts of his books, etc. The quantity and his meticulous personal organisation of the archive forms, however, pose a challenge for every scholar, as it creates what theorists of the archive have called “the promise (or illusion) of wholeness”.[42] Though the archive seems complete, there are important hiatuses to be considered. As such, his early journalistic activity is almost entirely absent, and in the case of his “European production”, there are at least three texts missing: “De la policromía en la construcción”, “Aguyari”and “‘Sud-América’ en París: Puvis de Chavannes” (parts one and two).[43]          


The archive also contains, besides his published work, countless unfinished and unpublished manuscripts. One of them is of particular interest for this research: a one-page document titled “Impresiones de viaje”. This document lists two preliminary indexes of a book that was never realised: the first shows a selection of his “European texts” and the second a broader selection of travel narratives written between 1884 and 1912.[44] Both indexes begin with his accounts on Venice, followed by texts on Padua, Turin, Genoa, Switzerland and Paris. While the first draft ends in France, the second includes his reportages of Antwerp, Boulogne-sur-Seine, Saint-Louis (USA), London, Dresden, Livorno and Genoa. “Impresiones de viaje”attributes a central place to his travel writing and thereby contradicts the neglect of his European texts in the aforementioned autobiography. Even more, by considering the editing of a book based on his travel reports, Schiaffino enrolled in a then emerging tradition of travel literature.[45]


Travels and Texts


Viewed from a geographical point of view, Schiaffino’s early texts project the following map: Buenos Aires (and its direct surroundings), the Atlantic Ocean,[46] Paris, Venice (and surrounding islands), Turin, Milan, Genoa, Lucerne, Interlaken, Grindelwald and Antwerp.[47] In addition, it is important to point out that the “European texts” often address their “country of destination”, Argentina, situating themselves in in -between places –if they had not already been written en route. This textual geography locates Schiaffino on and outside a conventional art trail. Visiting the palaces of Genoa, the international exhibition in Turin, searching for Rubens in Antwerp and, as described in correspondence, spending summers painting in Giverny, he followed the footsteps of a modern artist-to-be. Yet, going to Switzerland to hike a glacier at Grindelwald and undertaking “una gita di piacere” (a pleasure trip) to the islands surrounding Venice, he appears as a tourist, an image with which he did not want to be associated.


Schiaffino’s travels and those of his words were embedded in –and informed by– emerging and established traditions of travel. For example, though few artists had by then received a government grant, his choice to go to Venice and later to Paris reflected the Argentine debate on whether Paris, the centre of modernity, or Italy, the centre of art historic tradition, offered the right context to develop a national modern art.[48] The Antwerp of Rubens, on the other hand, had been part of the circuit of the Grand Tour since the eighteenth century,[49] and Interlaken was a popular upper class tourist destination about which also other Argentine correspondents wrote.[50] Besides these general narratives, there were also numerous personal motivations and professional obligations that shaped Schiaffino’s trips, such as a family reunion with his sister[51] and the news value of events as international exhibitions and the death of Victor Hugo.[52]


Conscious of his movement, Schiaffino expounded his ideas about travel and tourism throughout the corpus of texts, including the personal struggle the condition of travel implied. In “Lo que va de un país al otro”,he dwells on the subject of “the curiosity of travellers”, recommending everyone who goes from one country to another to “permanecer varios meses en una ciudad para conocer ciertas particularidades que, por más comunes que sean en el paraje, no por eso son menos curiosas y dignas de observarse [...]”.[53]For Schiaffino, the value of places lay in “nuances que pasan desapercibidas para los extranjeros que necesariamente se demoran poco tiempo en los puntos que visitan”.[54]Visiting museums, he translated this appeal with the maxim: “es mejor ver poco y bien, que mucho y mal”.[55]


As such, the author opposed the idea of tourism that guide books were spreading.[56] Instead he advocated slowing down to explore the nuances of everyday life and of artworks. In his description of places associated with traditional tourism, this vision expressed itself by incorporating historical references and reflecting on aesthetics and quotidian phenomena. As a result, his experiences often appear as literary ones; crossing landscapes, he moves through books. Exemplary is his impression of a cave in Switzerland: “[...] el efecto es ideal, fantástico en alto grado. La frase de Gautier ‘una luz eliseana, un reflejo de gruta azulina’ parece inspirada allí.”[57]Nevertheless, this did not prevent his account on the monument of the “Lion of Thorwaldsen” from resembling that of the touristic Baedeker guide.[58]


Schiaffino’s plea for deceleration paralleled his rejection of what in his texts surfaces as a new pace of life. In his reportage of his trip to the Swiss Alps he wrote:


Hoy en día el telégrafo ha suprimido las distancias, y el anuncio de una calamidad pública que amenaza a todos llega bien pronto al rincón más lejano de la tierra; la prensa publica inmediatamente el bando amenazador y todos saben que si no se toman medidas rápidas, el ferro-carril puede llevar de un momento a otro el germen de la epidemia a los parajes más sanos.[59]


Burucúa and Telesca pointed out that Schiaffino’s notes on Switzerland are marked by the dramatic experience of fleeing from the cholera outbreak in Italy. They go as far as stating that “[e]l tema de la nota es el cólera; no es Suiza [...]”.[60]Certain paragraphs indeed evoke a condition of exile, representing his travel as ‘an obligation to seek refuge in the mountains’. Moreover, the snow-capped mountains reminded him of the fumigation procedures with chlorinated lime that were being used to disinfect the streets of Italy.[61] Nevertheless, in his description of his adventures at the top of a glacier, his tone alters. Confronted with the sublime landscape, he vividly narrated the walk, expressing the marvellous and the ominous character of the experience. In this part of the text, time slows down. The one-hour hike across the glacier resulted in a “two-and-a-half-hour-walk full of dangers and challenges’” Yet, during these “largas horas”, Schiaffino mused upon the beauty that surrounded him.[62]


Beside the rapid spreading of diseases through new infrastructures, Schiaffino also viewed modern profit-driven industries as a threat to humanity. In Venice he saw the “ciudad-museo” suffering from “los avances de la vanidad moderna y la incuria del Municipio”. Emphasising that the canals and historical buildings made it impossible to transform the city into a “mercado comercial”, he concluded: “Medio siglo más y Venezia habrá desaparecido [...]”.[63] In Switzerland the battle was already lost: “La Suiza pintoresca está esplotada piedra por piedra”. The omnipresence of hotels and cableways had driven wildlife away and destroyed the pristine natural landscape. Disillusioned, the author lamented that one could only see antelopes through paid telescopes.[64]


Schiaffino’s confrontation with these aspects of modernity also appears in his practice of writing in itself. He admitted writing the first part of the Turin exhibition review “velozmente en un hotel de Turín” and the second and third part from Venice.[65] In addition, in his “Recuerdos de Génova”,the work of Van Dyck brought him to recall galleries in Genoa and Venice, a reminiscence that he suddenly interrupted, stating: “Me apercibo que los recuerdos artísticos viajan por telégrafo, hoy soltamos a Milán y ahora nos vemos en Venecia, retornemos por un momento a Génova, si os place”.[66]This kind of fragmentation characterises several texts and reveals Schiaffino as a modern writer who confronted diverse realities, combined perspectives and challenged the new pace of life. He adapted himself to –and translated – the speed of the telegraph, train travel and temporary stays in hotels. Hence, although he aimed to stimulate a reverse movement, his words in some texts clearly express, in José Marti’s terms, that “[t]odo es expansión, comunicación, florescencia, contagio, esparcimiento”.[67]


“Corresponsal literario y artístico”


Reviewing Schiaffino’s early texts from 1882 until 1891, it becomes clear how his activities of reporting, translating and criticising that first characterise his articles separately, gradually appear as integrated aspects. From this perspective, the Apuntes is a key-work. The text sketches recent socio-cultural transformations in Argentina, shifting between a macro and micro level –going from portraying the city to analysing the taste of its wealthy inhabitants. In the first sections, Schiaffino took the reader by the hand and lead him/her through the streets of Buenos Aires, the forest of Palermo and into bourgeois houses. He unveiled the materialistic nature of progress as it was being imposed and the lack of taste it engendered among the public. To support his thesis of Buenos Aires as a cultural dessert, he cited diverse European literary works, among which Edgar Allen Poe’s Philosophy of Furniture that tackles the decadence of the American nouveau riche in the first half of the nineteenth century. Reading interior decorations as a material and cultural expression of their owners, Schiaffino translated Poe's essay into the reality of Buenos Aires.[68]


Complementing this cultural critique with the first historiography of art in Argentina, Schiaffino presented himself in the “Apuntes…” as a historian, a critic and a connoisseur. In his subsequent articles he aimed to further confirm these positions, repeatedly displaying his knowledge of European art history and contemporary art practice. He explained concepts, artworks, art techniques and artists’ styles, often explicitly addressing the misunderstandings and errors of other writers. Moreover, though less explicit, he also sought to shed light on his artistic activity. Laura Malosetti Costa already noticed the correspondence between his discourse on “pristine nature” and his drawings published in LIA.[69] Yet, there are also other kinds of references that connect his texts with his art. For example, mentioning the portrait that he made and that was published in LIA in the entry on José Aguyari in the Apuntes, he enrolled himself implicitly into the historiographical narrative. This quote, however subtle it was, anticipated the place he would grant himself in following versions of this essay.[70]


This kind of explicit and implicit positioning reappears in his European texts, but as part of a complex dynamic of identity negotiation. In the aforementioned autobiography, Schiaffino described his work as a writer in Europe as that of a “corresponsal literario y artístico”.[71] The corresponsal was a new personage that arose during the nineteenth century and that united the roles of the traveller and the journalist. Reviewing the locus of travel in literature, Beatriz Colombi explains how the corresponsal moved away from the ‘rationality’ that characterised conventional press articles, combining artistic prose and factual reporting. The writers invited the readers to join him/her on the road, exploring new landscapes. In these explorations, the authors expressed themselves with great liberty, impartiality and continual awareness of the gaze of the reader.[72]


In the case of the “European texts”, the portrayed landscapes are dominated by, on the one hand, art, architecture, theatre and other cultural spectacles and, on the other, a search for unspoilt nature. The traveller-reporter thereby took on various roles, experimenting with diverse literary models. Writing about Venice, he is in one article a flâneur examining daily life and in another a historian explaining the history and technique of mosaics;[73] impressed by the performances of Sarah Bernhardt, he revealed himself as a literary narrator who succeeded in capturing the magic of a play in a couple of paragraphs;[74] attending the funeral of Victor Hugo, he returned to being a reporter describing the course of events;[75] and reflecting on the evolution and appreciation of aesthetics, he steps into the footsteps of philosophers and critics such as Hippolyte Taine.[76]


However smooth Schiaffino seems to move between these topoi, in almost every text, signs of a struggle surface. A good example is his discovery of Venice as a city with streets –and not just water as he had previously believed.[77] His first article, “En viaje...!”, can be viewed as a portrait of this ‘”state of confrontation” that reappears throughout his corpus of “European texts”. Summarising his first transatlantic crossing with the aphorism “no hay como conocer el mar para amar la tierra”, he realised he was not the adventurer he thought he was. If the article starts with his desire to shipwreck and to live at sea, it ends with an inspiring image of the monotonousnessof the voyage and the call to “[...] apagar la lámpara de Aladino que nos hace ver todas estas maravillas y elevemos el cuerpo a pagar su tributo al sueño”.[78]


In her introductory essay of Cuadros de viaje, Malosetti Costa points out how Argentine artists travelling to the Old Continent prepared: they knew Europe before experiencing Europe. Hence going to Europe signified a struggle with personal expectations and idealisations that made artists rethink their image of Europe and of themselves.[79] When Schiaffino turns to fine art in his “European texts”, his approach is always critical and didactic at the same time. In continuation with his previous articles, he wrote as one well-informed, citing art historical sources and naming numerous artists and artworks. The expert thus remained an expert. Nevertheless, Europe did present a challenge. Reviewing an exhibition of Eugene Delacroix in Paris, Schiaffino explicitly distanced himself from the idea of being an “art critic” by alleging that “si mi profesión fuera la de crítico de arte, me vería obligado al hablar de Delacroix pintor de batallas [...]; no estando en ese caso, me contento en mi humilde juicio [...]”.[80]In the same text, he also admitted that until then he had not understood Delacroix and had doubted his merits –an exceptional confession of a lack of knowledge.[81] This introspective voice returns in his article “Apreciaciones estéticas”, but in this case addresses the distance between the critic, the subject and the public:


Cada vez que me ocupo de crítica artística, un remordimiento me asalta y, francamente, no hay de que, porque si hay opiniones seguras del olvido son las mías; estoy en una posición admirable para librarme a una orgía de crimines, para ser impunemente un Neron en la crítica, pues que nadie de aquellos de quienes hablo me lee ni me leerá nunca, y, sin embargo, a veces me sorprendo temeroso de dar un mal rato al mismo Durero en su tumba con una injusticia inconsciente.[82]


On the Old Continent, Schiaffino found himself in a safe haven: the subjects of his texts had either already died, or would never be able to read his words because they only appeared in Buenos Aires. However, this did not prevent him from feeling insecure and expressing his doubts. In some of his articles, he explicitly put his own words into perspective. As such, he began his salon critique of 1885, apologising for writing at the closure of the exhibition:


Creo, pues, que no estará de más ahora la opinión de un extranjero, si bien menos autorizado por sus luces, en posición ventajosa dado su origen sud-americano que lo exime de chauvinisme en esta materia para juzgar de las producciones artísticas de tan variadas procedencias.[83]


These self-reflective fragments, that project the paradoxical image of Schiaffino denying the profile of an art critic, yet devoted to “crítica artística”, display the complexity of his situation as a cultural mediator in Europe. Seeking to promote a cultural field in Buenos Aires, Schiaffino wrote for a particular context. In regard to Argentine art criticism in specific, it was so scarce and varied in form and content that he spoke of “la desierta arena de la crítica artística”.[84] Therefore, without an institutionalised field and a stable art production at home, it appears to have been impossible for him to associate himself with the figure of an art critic, despite his position at the centre of modern art. He could however write about art and reflect about art criticism. Even before going to Europe, in his early articles, Schiaffino sporadically lined up the characteristics of what he considered good art criticism. Addressing himself to the writers, in the “Apuntes…”, he presented the ideal critic as someone who could discern the good qualities of an artwork from the bad, advising the artist on how to evolve. His most clear demand was not to lapse into the mistakes of “la alabanza excesiva” or “el encarnizamiento apasionado”; it was between those two extremes that genuine art criticism arose.[85] A similar critique recurs in his articles “Galimatías crítico-artístico”,Impresiones artísticas” and “Intermedio-artístico-familiar”. In each of these texts Schiaffino entered into a polemic with other critics. Analysing their references, concepts and terminology, he pointed out their errors and mistakes, underlining the importance of the knowledge of art history in order to write about art.[86]


In his “European production”, art criticism, in the sense that he described it, is a leitmotiv that assumes various forms. His reviews of artists, artworks, exhibitions and salons often blend with his impression of landscapes, cities, traditions and travel.[87] In his monographic texts, on the other hand, he clearly balances a historical and a critical approach. For example, the article on Delacroix consists partly of a general explanation of his work, embedded in references to, and translations of, the publication Lettres de Eugène Delacroix (1815-1863), and partly of a narration of his personal experience of visiting an exposition of the master.


There are, however, three texts that stand out:Notas sobre el salon”, “Las exposiciones en París” and “Apreciaciones estéticas”. In “Notas sobre el salon”, Schiaffino adopted for the first time a traditional model of French Salon criticism in which artists and artworks are listed and judged. The text was a sequel to an article he wrote on 5 May 1885 and that gives a general impression of the salon, the vernissage and some scandals preceding it.[88] In “Las exposiciones en París”, a review of three expositions, he went one step further and reduced his texts to a list of names that he explained in one or two sentences – as it was common to do so in the French press. This fragmentation generates a panoramic view, yet at the expense of descriptions of artworks that are omnipresent in his other texts.[89] “Apreciaciones estéticas”, the last text he published from Europe,deals with an event organised at the galleries of the École des Beaux-Arts for the benefit of the victims of recent floods. Disillusioned by the selection of artworks, Schiaffino openly criticised the organiser, Rochefort, and embarked upon a reflection on judgment, taste and other questions of aesthetics. To support his thesis that if your “god” is Leonardo da Vinci, you will probably “detest” Michelangelo and Rubens, and –as in his case– vice versa,[90] he walked with the reader through the rooms of the gallery, listing and describing artworks. The practice of ekphrasis in this text goes as far as evoking the impression of a work of art by inventing another one. For example, to explain an intimate scene of Nicolaas Maas, a disciple of Rembrandt, he asked the reader to think of a “Meissonier pintado en plena pasta, ampliamente, jugoso de sombras, cálido de color, voluptuoso de factura, y ostentando esa sensación de verdad que envuelve a un sujeto moderno tratado sobre lo vivo [...]”.[91]Schiaffino knew the effectiveness of this literary, at times almost prosaic, approach. He had already emphasised its importance in his article “Recuerdos de Génova”, envisioning himself as the reader of his texts. Writing about the works decorating the Palacio Balbi-Senarega, Marcello Durazzo and Brignole Sale, he stated:


[...] valdría la pena, pues, de describirlas in estenso y lo haría de mil amores si no temiera fastidiaros; tengo presente que sería preciso ser un maniático como el que esto escribe, que cuando no puede ver cuadros los lee, para devorar con gusto una larga serie de páginas puramente de arte descriptivo.[92]


Narrating artworks posed however a challenge. In the Turin review, he seems lost in translation: “[...] pido disculpa por los términos franceses de que está sembrada esta carta, en atención a que no son trasportables a nuestro lenguaje, por lo menos con toda la expresión que tienen en el argot de los talleres [...].”[93]The struggle with language was but a mere symptom of his struggle to translate images into text. Admiring the Mort de sainte Geneviève of Jean-Paul Laurens in the Pantheon, he wrote:


La pluma de Gautier que he ensalzado las vestiduras de Pablo Veronese en sus fastuosas cenas, rechinaría de placer recorriendo el papel, y nunca se habría visto en mayor fiesta, que al describir sus colores, sus pliegues y la calidad de las telas. En cuanto a mí, necesitaría una muestra de cada túnica pintada por el artista para enviarla en esta carta a guisa de descripción.[94]


Some Final Remarks


This paper inevitably reveals but a part of Schiaffino’s cultural mediation. Studying his texts and travels, it does not focus on the elaborate descriptions through which he translated his experiences of Paris, Genoa and other European cities, or the many literary anecdotes that symbolise his thoughts and criticism. Instead, it concentrates on how travelling in Europe and writing for a Buenos Aires’ public manifested itself in his words. Therefore, it looks at often isolated sentences and paragraphs that disrupt his discourse and bring the author into the picture. Hence, the image that in this paper emerges is not that of Europe but of Schiaffino writing from Europe. It depicts his criticism on tourism and the modern pace of life, his challenges and struggles with writing and a negotiation of perspectives and positions.


The train and the telegraph –objects that recurrently make their appearance in the literature of that time as icons of modernity[95]– embodied for Schiaffino this new reality that he sometimes praised, sometimes viewed in the light of a dawning crisis such as the cholera outbreak. Confronted with these and other aspects of “modern Europe”, extending from the disappearance of pristine nature in Switzerland to the art of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, he questioned his surroundings, projecting implicitly or explicitly his ideas on the situation in his home country. There is, for example, an analogy between his comments on the modernisation of the Palermo forest, the plantation of trees in Buenos Aires and the expansion of the capital[96] and, his criticism on the destruction of the Swiss landscape and the historical character of Venice. The same is true for his plea to slow down and to take the time to visit places, look at art and, implicitly, write a text.[97]


These reflections also concerned himself. The conflict depicted in the first text is telling: he was not the adventurer he once envisioned himself to be. As such, a doubt steals into his discourse. His texts emphasize the significance of “descriptive art”, yet language difficulties in some cases prevented the author from translating an art work into words. Similarly, in writing from Europe about art and art criticism, Schiaffino did not position himself as an art critic.


These paradoxes locate Schiaffino on the one hand in-between Argentina and Europe, en route to developing himself as a critic and generating an art critical discourse in his home country. On the other hand, it shows Schiaffino in pursuit of, what Dennis Porter has called, “the modernist dream of travel”. Looking at the relationship between modernism and travel in the nineteenth century, Porter states that the voyage “never satisf[ied] the desire imaginatively invested in it” –as in Baudelaire's poem Voyage. The modernist feeling of travel, he writes, “affirms both the happiness associated with travel and simultaneously the impossibility of its ever being realised as such”.[98]





Cómo citar correctamente el presente artículo?


[1]Archivo Eduardo Schiaffino, Archivo General de la Nación (from here on cited as: AES AGN), Apuntes y borradores, s.d.

[2]“Ha muerto D. Eduardo Schiaffino”, La Voz del Interior, Córdoba, 4 de mayo de 1935; “Gotitas... el creador”, El Atlántico, Mar del Plata, 4 de mayo de 1935.

[3]Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos. Arte y sociedad en Buenos Aires a fines del siglo XIX, Buenos Aires, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001.José León Pagano, El arte de los argentinos, vol. 2, Buenos Aires, Edición del autor, 1938, p. 388.

[4]José Emilio Burucúa, “Prólogo”, in José Emilio Burucúa (ed.), Nueva Historia Argentina. Arte, sociedad y política, vol. 1, Buenos Aires, Editorial Sudamericana, 2010, p. 24. Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos..., op. cit., pp. 176-182.

[5] Comparing the work of Schiaffino with that of other painters, Malosetti Costa writes: “Hemos hablado de un didactismo básico en el pensamiento que guió la trayectoria de nuestro personaje [Schiaffino]. Sus búsquedas como artista, sin embargo, a primera vista no parecen adecuarse a este esquema. De todos los pintores de su generación es el que aparece menos ‘didáctico’ y más ‘moderno’”. Ibidem, p. 414.’

[6] On Schiaffino and urban aesthetics: Laura Malosetti Costa, “Eduardo Schiaffino: La modernidad como proyecto”, in Seminario internacional: Los estudios de arte desde América Latina. Temas y problemas, 1999, Mexico City,, access 3 November 2014; Raúl E. Piccioni, “El arte público en Buenos Aires. Imágenes urbanas para un proyecto civilizatorio”, in Héctor Kohen and Miguel Ángel Muñoz (ed.), Poderes de la imagen, I Congreso internacional de teoría e historia de las artes: IX Jornadas CAIA, Buenos Aires, Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Arte (CAIA), 2003,, access 3 November 2014.

[7] Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos..., op. cit.;María Isabel Baldasarre, Los dueños del arte: coleccionismo y consumo cultural en Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Edhasa, 2006; Ana Canakis, Schiaffino, Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2011.

[8] Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos..., op. cit., p. 416.

[9]Researching the archive, I encountered many art works that until now have not been subject of study, such as the portraits Berta, Isabel, Gabriela and Ines, mentioned in the article: “Exposición de artistas argentinos. Salon Freitas y Castillo”, La Ilustración Sud-Americana, s.d., pp. 279-281, and the paintings La femme en blanc and Jeune femme se mirant dans une glace, displayed at the Salon of 1910. Source: unidentified article at the AES AGN, 3342, Impresos 1895-1935. It is important to mention the current work on Schiaffino by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes that preserves a large part of the Eduardo Schiaffino archive (from here on referred to as AES MNBA). Recent explorations of amongst others Cecilia Garcia lead to the identification of art works. For in-depth studies of the artistic work of Schiaffino, I refer to the aforementioned publications of Laura Malosetti Costa and Raúl E. Piccioni.

[10] Laura Malosetti Costa describes his writing as “[...] una prosa irónica y aguda, a tono con el estilo mordaz que cultivaban por entonces Lucio Mansilla, Miguel Cané o Eduardo Wilde [...].” Laura Malosetti Costa, “Eduardo Schiaffino: La Modernidad”…, op. cit., p. 7. One of the most important studies of his early texts is: Ana María Telesca and José Emilio Burucúa, “Schiaffino, corresponsal de El Diario en Europa (1884-1885). La lucha por la modernidad en la palabra y en la imagen”, Anales del Instituto de Arte Americano e Investigaciones Estéticas “Mario J. Buschiazzo 1989-1991, FADU-UBA, vol. 27-28, 1992, pp. 65-73. The authors describe Schiaffino’s writing as follows: “El brillo de su escritura, enriquecida por cualidades de eufonía, rítmo, relieve y color, lo singularizan como un escritor que ya responde a los paradigmas modernistas.”

[11]Reine Meylaerts and Maud Gonne, “Transferring the city – transgressing borders: Cultural mediators in Antwerp (1850–1930)”, in Translation Studies, vol. 7, n° 2, London, 2014, p. 136,, access 23 October 2014. In their call for papers for the international conference “Cultural Mediators in Europe 1750-1950”, organized at the Catholic University of Leuven in June 2014, Meylaerts and Gonne broadened the definition, incorporating references to the field of art history. In particular, they mention “art critics who promote specific artistic subsets as typically national, international or regional, [...]” and “[...] art dealers who organize (inter)national art exhibitions [...]”. “Cultural mediators in Europe 1750 - 1950”, access 9 November 2014.

[12] Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos…, op. cit., pp. 15-33. Laura Malosetti Costa, “Canon, estilo y modernidad en la historiografía artística argentina”, in XXII Colóquio Brasileiro de História da Arte, 2002, Porto Alegre,, access 30 October 2014.

[13]Fernando Devoto, Historia de la inmigración en la Argentina, Buenos Aires, Sudamericana, 2009, pp. 247-248.

[14]Graciela Montaldo, “Guía Rubén Darío”, in Graciela Montaldo (ed.), Viajes de un cosmopolita extremo, Buenos Aires, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2014, p. 12.

[15] Michel Espagneand Michael Werner, Transferts. Les relations interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (XVIII e et XIX e siècle), Paris, Éditions Recherches sur les Civilisations, 1988.

[16] Michel Espagne, “La notion de transfert culturel”, Revue Sciences/Lettres, vol. 1, 2013, p. 2,, access 4 November 2014.

[17]Ibidem, pp. 2-7.

[18]Reine Meylaerts and Maud Gonne, “Transferring the city – transgressing borders: Cultural mediators in Antwerp (1850–1930)”, op. cit., p. 146.

[19]Ibidem, pp. 146-147.

[20] Lieven D’hulst, “(Re)locating translation history: From assumed translation to assumed transfer”, Translation Studies, vol. 5, London, 2012, pp. 139-140. The vagueness was also the starting point of the conference “Le transfert culturel, un carrefour de perspectives critiques – conceptualisations, usages et limites de la notion”: “Nous faisons, pour notre part, l’hypothèse qu’il s’agit d’une notion souffrant d’une circonscription trop indécise, d’un usage souvent acritique (à la limite, tout est ‘transfert’), et qu’elle renvoie à des recherches dont les procédures et le vocabulaire ne convergent pas nécessairement.”

[21] Lieven D’hulst, “(Re)locating translation history…”, op. cit., pp. 139-143 and 150-151.

[22] Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Michael North, “Introduction – Artistic and Cultural Exchanges between Europe and Asia, 1400–1900: Rethinking Markets, Workshops and Collections”, in Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Michael North (ed.), Artistic and Cultural Exchanges between Europe and Asia, 1400–1900: Rethinking Markets, Workshops and Collections, Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 2010, pp. 1-3.

[23] Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, “Time and Place: Essays in the Geohistory of Art. An Introduction”, in Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Elizabeth Pilliod (ed.), Time and Place: Essays in the Geohistory of Art, Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 2005, pp. 8-9. See also: the first two chapters and the last chapter of Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Towards a Geography of Art, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2004.

[24] Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, “Interpreting Cultural Transfer and the Consequences of Markets and Exchange: Reconsidering Fumi-e”, in Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Michael North (ed.), Artistic and Cultural Exchanges between Europe and Asia, 1400–1900: Rethinking Markets, Workshops and Collections,Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 2010, pp. 135-162.

[25] Ibidem, pp.160-161.

[26]Alejandra Laera, “Introducción: El brote de los géneros”, in Alejandra Laera (dir.), El brote de los géneros. Historia crítica de la literatura argentina, vol. 3, Buenos Aires, Emecé Editores, 2010, p. 8.

[27] Ibidem, pp. 8-9.

[28] Marcelo Garabedian, Sandra Szir, and Lida Miranda (eds.), Prensa Argentina siglo XIX. Imágenes, textos y contextos, Buenos Aires, Teseo, 2009. Laura Malosetti Costa, “The example of Millet: the role of the press in the process of emergence of a public space for fine arts in Buenos Aires (1880-1900)”, in Martin Heusser, et al. (eds.), On Verbal / Visual Representation (Word & Image Interactions, Vol. 4), Amstedam-New York, Rodopi, 2005, pp. 43-52. Laura Malosetti Costa, “Palabras y gestos para una modernidad. La crítica de arte en la década de 1880 en Buenos Aires”, in Diana Wechsler (ed.), Desde la otra vereda. Momentos en el debate por un arte moderno en la Argentina (1880-1960), Buenos Aires,Ediciones del Jilguero, 1998, pp. 17-41, Marina Aguerre et al. (ed.), Arte y recepción: VII Jornadas de Teoría e Historia de las Artes, Buenos Aires, Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Arte (CAIA), 1997.

[29] On the construction of an image of a national art see note 28 and the work of Laura Malosetti Costa, José Emilio Burucúa, María Isabel Baldasarre and Roberto Amigo, to name but a few of the many scholars who work on this subject. On imaginative travels: Laurens Dhaenens, “To Forget the Gondola for The Horse: The Imaginary Voyages of Schiaffino”,in Silvia Dolinko et al. (ed.), Congreso Internacional de Teoría e Historia de las Artes, XV Jornadas CAIA: Las redes del arte: intercambios, procesos y trayectos en la circulación de las imágenes, Buenos Aires, Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Artes (CAIA), 2013, pp. 393-403. Schiaffino’s reference to a “imaginary galery”: “La exposición de Turín. Arte contemporáneo. Primera parte: La pintura moderna en Italia”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 24 June 1884.

[30] On El arte en el Plata and La Ilustración Argentina (from here on cited as: LIA): Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos, op. cit., pp. 108-114 and 162-176.

[31] I would like to thank Laura Malosetti Costa for giving me this reference.

[32] There were also collaborations between the newspapers and magazines. Schiaffino, for example, Schiaffino’s article on Aguyari was published in El Nacional and LIA respectively on 20 July 1883 and 7 September 1883.

[33] Schiaffino signed his articles as: ZigZag, E.J.S. and Pincel –and to a lesser extent as Lino C. Real, Pistacho and Alpha.

[34] These texts do not appear in his archive and have not been subject of study. The identification of these texts was based on the editorial note that precedes his article on José Aguyari, published in El Nacional on the 7 September 1883 and presents Schiaffino as “[u]no de nuestros colaboradores”.

[35] In Cascabel he published: “Gastronomía eléctrica” (7 September 1882), “Revista de la semana”(14 September), “En el circo” (14 September 1882), “Tedium vitoe” (28 September 1882), “Testamento-cartas” (28 September 1882), “El acompañamiento” (28 September 1882) and “Los discursos” (28 September 1882). His archive also contains one article that could not be located: “El diamante de Currumalan”.

[36] Translations by Schiaffino in La Opinión: “Théophile Gautier por Emile Bergerat” (26 July 1882),”El nido de ruiseñores (Traducción)” (18 July 1882), “Alejandro Dumas (hijo). Una ejecución capital (Traducción)” (30 July 1882 y 1 August 1882), and “El Club de los Hatchichinos Theophile Gautier (traducción)” (10-11-12 and 13 August de 1882).

[37] Pincel, “A propósito del arte”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 17 May 1883.

[38] Pincel, “El pintor Pallejá. Una exhibición artística”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 15 June 1883.

[39] Schiaffino collected this article in a scrapbook that he titled E.J.S. Traducciones y artículos, Buenos Aires 83-84. This document is preserved at the AES AGN, 3342 Impresos 1895-1935. For this article, my page references correspond to the numbered pages of this scrapbook.

[40] Schiaffino was well aware of the importance of writing the history of art practices in Argentina. Presenting a linear evolution, he illustrated the fructuous soil for art and the role his contemporaries had in completing this process by creating a national art. He referred to the listed artists as “precursores” who “han despertado el gusto en un círculo que no por ser restringido existe menos”. Zigzag, “Apuntes sobre el arte en Buenos Aires. Falta de protección para su desenvolvimiento”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, September 1883, p. 51.

[41] See attachment I for a complete list of the articles published between 1884 and 1891. The articles from 30 October until 2 December 1889 were written from Buenos Aires.

[42] Marlene Manoff, “Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines”, Libraries and the Academy, vol. 4, n° 1, Baltimore, 2004, p. 17,, access 13 November 2014.

[43] As in the case of his Apuntes,Schiaffino made scrapbooks of the articles he published from Europe. For reasons of conservation these documents have been deconstructed and unfortunately some pages have gone lost. AES MNBA, BIC10.

[44] AES AGN, 3340, Apuntes y borradores, s.d..

[45] For more information on the subject of travel narratives: Andrea Pagni, “Ser o no ser turista. Relatos de viajes a Europa”, in Alejandra Laera (ed.), El brote de los géneros…, op. cit., pp. 39-58.

[46] In his texts the Atlantic Ocean appears as a place. He even mentioned it as a destination. This was no exception as crossing the Atlantic was considered a significant experience, described in many travel accounts. To give but a few examples, on 13 November 1882, a similar text appeared in La Patria Argentina by an anonymous writer: “Reportaje maritimo”; Miguel Cané, En viaje, Paris, Garnier, 1884; and –in another period– Luis Falcini, Itinerario de una vocación, Buenos Aires, Losada, 1975.

[47] The published texts do not cover his complete stay between 1884 and 1891 and, as I mentioned before, the archive is incomplete. He mentioned Milan in his account on Genoa and Giverny in a letter to his mother. Antwerp is discussed in a text that he published after his return in 1891. Eduardo Schiaffino, “Una impresión”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 12 December 1891 (republished in América, Buenos Aires, 1891, p. 6.)

[48] Laura Malosetti Costa, Cuadros de viaje: artistas argentinos en Europa y Estados Unidos (1880 - 1910), Buenos Aires, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2008, pp. 13-14.

[49] Jeremy Black, The British and the Grand Tour, London, Routledge, 1985, p. 149.

[50] On tourism in Interlaken and in that specific region: Regina Bendix, “Tourism and Cultural Display. Inventing Traditions for Whom?”, The Journal of American Folklore, American Folklore Society, vol. 102, n° 404, Illinois, 1989, pp. 131-146,, access 11 November 2014; Cédric Humair, “Tourism in Periods of Crisis. Trends Effects and Business Strategies ”, EBHA’s Athens Conference, 24-26 August 2011,,access 10 November 2014. Text on the subject, published in the same period of Schiaffino: Martin Pescador, “Notas de mi cartera. En Suiza: Lucerna y sus fuentes-Berna y sus osos”, Interlaken, in El Nacional,Buenos Aires, 7 February 1889. The article continues in the issue of 15 February.

[51] In Interlaken Schiaffino met with Alberto Ramos Mejía and his wife, his sister Emirene –whose name he did not mention. Ana María Telesca and José Emilio Burucúa, “Schiaffino, corresponsal”, op. cit., p. 68.

[52] Subjects such as the International Exhitibion of Turin and the death of Victor Hugo were discussed in many newspapers in Buenos Aires. To name but a few articles on the Turin exposition: Alessandro Stella, “La pintura”, “La exposición de Turín, Industrías artísticas” and “El renacimiento italiano”, La Nación, Buenos Aires, 8 and 19 July y 16 December 1884,; Matilde Serao, “Vida italiana (especial para ‘El Diario’), “La exposición de Turín”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 10 July 1884,.

[53]Eduardo Schiaffino, “Lo que va de un país a otro”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 17 September 1884.


[55]Eduardo Schiaffino, “En el museo del Louvre”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 23 May 1884.

[56] On travel traditions: Andrea Pagni, “Ser o no ser turista...”, op. cit., pp. 46-51; Beatriz Colombi, “Prólogo”, in Beatriz Colombi (ed.), Cosmópolis: del flâneur al globe-trotter, Buenos Aires, Eterna Cadencia, 2010, pp. 11-33.

[57] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos de Suiza: Interlaken - la mer de glace”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 12 de December 1884.

[58] Karl Baedeker, La Suisse et les parties limotrophes de l’Italie, de la Savoie et du Tirol¸ Coblenz, Baedeker, 1872,p. 54.

[59] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos de Suiza”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 4 December 1884.

[60]Ana María Telesca and José Emilio Burucúa...” op. cit., p. 68.

[61]Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos de Suiza”, op. cit.

[62] Idem.

[63] Eduardo Schiaffino, “En las calles de Venecia II”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 14 July 1884.

[64] Eduardo Schiaffino, “París Artístico”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 20 April 1884.

[65] Eduardo Schiaffino, “La exposición de Turín. Arte contemporáneo. Primera parte: La pintura moderna en Italia”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 24 June 1884.

[66] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos de Génova”,El Diario, Buenos Aires, 30 August 1884.

[67] José Martí, “Prólogo al poema del Niágara de Juan A. Pérez Bonalde”, in Ensayos y crónicas, Madrid, Anaya and Mario Muchnik, 1995, p. 26.

[68]Zigzag, “Apuntes…", op. cit., p. 46.

[69] Laura Malosetti Costa, Los primeros modernos…, op. cit., pp. 175-176.

[70] For a history of the text, I refer to the prologue by Godofredo E.J. Canale in La evolución del gusto artístico en Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Francisco A. Colombo, 1982, pp. 9-15.

[71] AES AGN, Apuntes y borradores,s.d.

[72]Beatriz Colombi,“Prólogo”, op. cit., pp. 15-16.

[73] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Venecia de noche”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 16 May 1884; Eduardo Schiaffino, “En las calles de Venecia”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 12 June 1884; Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos artísticos. El mosaico”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 17 May 1885.

[74] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Sarah Bernhardt en Macbeth y la fiesta de las Tullirías”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 29 October 1884.

Eduardo Schiaffino, “El gran concert-festival del Teatro Italiano”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 26 November 1884.

[75] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Cartas de Schiaffino: Las honras fúnebres a Víctor Hugo”, Sud-América, Buenos Aires, s.d. [1885].

[76] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Evoluciones de la estética”, in Sud-América, Buenos Aires, 28 August 1886; Eduardo Schiaffino, “Apreciaciones estéticas”, Sud-América, Buenos Aires, 21 February 1887..

[77]Eduardo Schiaffino, “En las calles de Venecia”, op. cit.

[78] Eduardo Schiaffino, “En Viaje! De San Vicente”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 16 March 1884.

[79]Laura Malosetti Costa, Cuadros de Viaje…, op. cit. p. 14.

[80] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Eugenio Delacroix y su exposición actual”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 14 May 1884.

[81] “Yo tenía grandes deseos de verla para salir de dudas respecto al verdadero mérito del artista, a quien hasta entonces no comprendía ni como dibujante ni como colorista; algunos cuadros suyos vistos aisladamente, no me habían permitido juzgarlo.” Eduardo Schiaffino, ibidem.

[82] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Apreciaciones estéticas”, op. cit.

[83] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Notas sobre el Salón”, Sud-América, Buenos Aires, 4 August 1885.

[84] Zigzag, “Impresiones artísticas”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 29 October 1883.

[85]Zigzag, “Apuntes sobre el arte...”,op. cit., pp. 56-57.

[86]Zigzag, “Galimatías crítico-artístico”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 8 October 1883,; Zigzag, “Impresiones artísticas”, op. cit.;Eduardo Schiaffino, “Intermedio-artístico-familiar”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 31 October 1883.

[87] Eduardo Schiaffino, “París Artístico”, op. cit.; Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos de Génova”, op. cit.

[88] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Notas sobre el Salón”, op. cit.; Eduardo Schiaffino, “Cartas de París: La apertura del salón”, Sud-América, Buenos Aires, 10 June 1885.

[89] Eduardo Schiaffino, “La exposiciones de París. Arte contemporáneo”, Sud-América, Buenos Aires, 19 March 1886.

[90] “Si vuestro Dios es Leonardo da Vinci tened por seguro que detestareis in petto Miguel-Angel, a Rubens y vice versa.” Eduardo Schiaffino, “Apreciaciones estéticas”, op. cit.

[91] Eduardo Schiaffino, ibidem.

[92] Eduardo Schiaffino, “Recuerdos de Génova”, op. cit.

[93] Eduardo Schiaffino, “El arte italiano contemporáneo en la exposición de Turín”, El Diario, Buenos Aires, 7 July 1884, p. 46.

[94] Eduardo Schiaffino, “París Artístico”, op. cit.

[95] For more information on this topic I refer to: Laura Otis (ed.), Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology, Oxford, University Press, 2002 and Remo Ceserani, “The Impact of the Train on Modern Literary Imagination”, Stanford Humanities Review, vol. 1, Stanford, 1999,., access 23 October 2014.

[96] This subject returns in the articles: Pincel, “A propósito del arte”, op. cit., s.d.; “José Aguyari”, El Nacional, Buenos Aires, 7 September 1883; Zigzag, “Apuntes sobre el arte...”, op. cit., pp. 46-47.

[97] In the articles published before going to Europe, he criticizes the rapid changes of the city and the countryside, urges collectors to take the time and look art, and accentuates the significance of studying art history for writing about art. See, amongst others, note 94 and Zigzag, ibidem, p. 49.

[98] Dennis Porter, “Modernism and the Dream of Travel”, in Michael Hanne (ed.), Literature and Travel, Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 1993, pp. 62-64.

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El autor

Es becario del Fondo para la Investigación Científica de Flandes (FWO). Realiza su doctorado en historia del arte con la direccion del Prof. Dr. Hilde Van Gelder y la Prof. Dra. Laura Malosetti Costa. Su tema de investigación se centra en el estudio del desarollo de la crítica de arte en Argentina y Chile. Es autor de numerosos artículos (“To forget the gondola for the horse; the imaginary voyages of Eduardo Schiaffino”, CAIA, 2013), capítulos de libros y editor de varios libros como Arte desde America Latina (editor, Lannoo 2015) y La crítica de arte. Puntos de vista de Bélgica y los Países Bajos en una perspectiva internacional (co-editor, LannooCampus, 2010).



Laurens Dhaenens; «

Mapping the Texts and Travels of Eduardo Schiaffino between 1882 and 1891: A Study of An Itinerary between Countries, Languages, Perspectives and Positions

» .
En Caiana. Revista de Historia del Arte y Cultura Visual del Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Arte (CAIA).
N° 7 | Año 2015 en línea desde el 4 julio 2012.


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