Photo report by Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES – It was a rainy afternoon, I was in Vedado, on streets 17th and E, near the Museum of Decorative Arts. A miracle! It was open again, after two years of closure due to the cursed pandemic.
I walked in and paid, it now costs 20 pesos. It’s more expensive, because you could see all the exhibits for only 5 pesos before.
Countess Revilla de Camargo, Luisa Gomez Mena, lived here, a woman who did not have children. The story goes that his fortune was amassed with money from many sugar cane mills and slavery. Also, that her husband was the owner of Manzana de Gomez, where there were countless shops and stores. It is now a super expensive hotel.
In short, there is always a crime behind a great fortune. This is how the famous saying goes …
The palace is magnificent, full of French, English and Oriental collections. Precious paintings are hung on its walls.
The smaller rooms are my favorite, where I’m sure she would write her letters and write invitations for fancy parties, dances and dinners, where caviar and champagne were naturally served.
The women dressed in their finest dresses and jewelry, while the gentlemen wore tuxedos. A life of luxury that came to an abrupt end in 1959, when the Revolution triumphed.
There was a stampede, families fleeing abroad and leaving all their belongings behind. They hated and feared the new regime. The countess also fled, taking her jewelry and putting many works of art under rugs and in false walls.
I’m sure she was thinking of coming back, but in 1964 this house opened as a museum to the public.
I can imagine his fury. The letter she wrote to Fidel Castro can be found on the Internet in which she insults him for having expropriated the building. Look for him if you can, in order to make fun of his good humor and the way aristocrats write, without bad words and using tasteful irony.
However, I think people should come and see this furniture and objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, including a writing desk belonging to Marie-Antoinette. Porcelain from Sèvres, Chantilly, Limoges, fans, many of which belonged to the poet Dulce Maria Loynaz.
In the room with oriental screens, there are display cases with figures in lapis lazuli, bone and ivory. It has two carved wooden bookcases.
You can see a variety of styles, but Persian rugs, glazed ceramic aquariums, Wedgwood, Worcester and Stafforshire objects and furniture coexist in perfect harmony.
The room where the countess slept is no longer open to the public. But I remember seeing it when I went to the museum when I was a kid.
The most intimate thing that one can see is the bathroom, in Art Deco style, where the pink marble, the mirrors on the walls and the beautiful porcelain sinks stand out. I guess the woman used the most sophisticated cosmetics.
The absence of air conditioning in the rooms is unthinkable, in order to keep them. The guide told me it was because of the country’s energy saving plans.
The gardens have been almost neglected, without the care they deserve, without flowers. Original chairs and impressive statues are still in the right wing.
I think every visitor coming to Havana should take a look around this place, where history still lives and beauty breathes in this space. I promise you will enjoy the visit.
Read more about Irina Pino here on Havana Times.
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