Uruguay Arts and Music

By | December 20, 2021


From the colonial period to the 19th century

The architecture of the period of Spanish and Portuguese domination follows European ways: the first designers were military engineers (Portuguese fortresses of San Miguel and Santa Teresa, in the East; in Montevideo, the Spanish ones: La ciudadela, by D. Cardoso, 1742, destroyed; Cerro, by J. Del Pozo y Marquy, 1809) who also built religious buildings (parish churches in the cities of San Carlos, Del Pozo y Marquy, and Maldonado, by C. Saa y Faria). At the turn of the 18th century. the Spanish architect T. Toribio introduced neoclassicism (Montevideo: facade of the cathedral, begun by C. Saa y Faria in 1790; Cabildo, 1804-11). His successor was his son José (wing of the San José y la Caridad hospital, 1825, and the Montero house, 1831, also in Montevideo).

With the Republic, the 1829 order for the demolition of the walls of Montevideo (born as a fortress-city in 1726) marks a new course: the Italian C. Zucchi, of French training, designed the Plaza Independencia (1837) which connects the Ciudad nueva, drawn by the engineer general JM Reyes in 1832-33, and the Ciudad vieja, delineated by the engineer captain Domingo Petrarca, the Solís Theater (1841-56, completed by F. Garmendia and C. Césari), the Elías Gil house (1837), later Palace of Justice. After the end of the Great War (1851), neoclassicism introduced by the Swiss Poncini dominated: between 1857 and 1863 Bernardo completed various works in Montevideo (cathedral; hospital; arrangement of Plaza Independencia; Chapel of the rotunda in the central cemetery); Francesco built Nuestra Señora del Pilar (1862) in Paysandú. Eclecticism is introduced to Montevideo by the Frenchman V. Rabu (San Francisco, 1865; Capella Jackson, 1871) and by the Uruguayans I. Pedralbez (houses of F. Gómez, 1875, and of A. Berro, 1880, later Embassy of Argentina) and J. Masquelez (extension of the hospital, Caja de Pensiones Militares); the Uruguayan JA Capurro (case Morales, seat of the JM Blanes museum, 1872; C. de Castro, 1870; A. de Castro, 1885; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1884) and the Italian L. Andreoni (Club Uruguay, 1888; Italian hospital, 1890; central station, 1890). With J. Tosi, art nouveau triumphed, also in Montevideo, the first step towards modernism (Reus al Sur district, project 1888; Palazzo Ser, 1888; Hotel Nacional, later university, project 1890).

In the figurative arts, Franciscans and Jesuits introduced works of religious subjects, mainly wooden sculptures. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. drawings and watercolors date back, made by artists who came to the Uruguay following scientific or military expeditions, which document landscape, flora, fauna, habits, customs, somatic types: the French Dom A.-J. Pernetty; the British A. Earle and C. Martens; the German A. d’Hastrel; the Italian F. Brambilla; the Franco-Brazilian J.-L. Pallière and the German JM Rugendas; in the volume Buenos Aires and Montevideo in a series of pictoresques illustrations taken on the spot (1820) there are etchings of watercolors by E. Essex Vidal (in Uruguay 1816-18 and 1826-28); the French A. Ollivier settled in the Uruguay in 1844. The Spanish M. Besnes and Irigoyen and the Italian C. Gallino introduced European art to the Uruguay The first prominent artistic personality was JM Blanes, author of historical paintings and local scenes. In addition to his sons Juan Luis and Nicanor, ED Carbajal and H. Espondaburu are among the first native sculptors. After independence (1825), national sentiment expressed itself in works evocative of patriotic battles and in portraits of heroes. With Italian immigration, interest in the Renaissance spread. At the end of the nineteenth century, CF Sáez reacted to the academicism, formed in a Roman environment; the sculpture of the 19th century. it was dominated by Italian artists.


The oldest folkloric substratum, linked to the populations of the Chana-Ciarrua and Tupi-Guaraní groups, almost disappeared with the European settlement; current popular music is mainly of Spanish origin. Among the forms of dance are the mediacaña, the cielito and the lively pericón (the national dance of the Uruguay); vocal forms are the triste, the cipher, the milonga and the vidalita, all for solo voice, sometimes with guitar accompaniment. A drum, distributed in four measures, already used by the black population of Montevideo for a pantomime with music (candombe) is used to accompany carnival dances. The history of cultured music begins in the Uruguay from the second half of the 17th century. Largely dependent on contemporary European experiences (imported in particular by authors such as the Austrian S. Thalberg and the American LM Gottschalk), it developed in particular thanks to the work of T. Giribaldi (1847-1930), who composed the first Uruguayan melodrama, La parisina (1878), L. Ribeiro (1854-1931), author of the opera Liropeya (1912), L. Sambucetti (1860-1926), director of the National Orchestra and author of the oratory San Francisco de Asís, A Broqua (1876-1946), best remembered for the cantata Tabaré and for the opera La Cruz del Sur. L. Cluzeau-Mortet (1889-1957), V. Ascone (1897-1979), A. Soriano (1915) and others developed a style with a strong national imprint. E. Fabini (1882-1950), C. Cortinas (1890-1918), C. Estrada (1909-1970), B. Reyes, M. Maidanik, R. Storm, L. Campodonico and C. Metrogiovanni are among the personalities most important in the panorama of contemporary Uruguayan music. For Uruguay 1999, please check estatelearning.com.

Uruguay MUSIC