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segunda-feira, 13 de outubro de 2014

Simón Bolívar, El Libertador

Portrait of Simón Bolívar by José Gil de Castro. 1824.
Collection of the Bolívar Museum. Caracas

Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) has been portrayed in many different ways. However it is said Bolívar considered this one, by the Peruvian artist, the closest to reality.

The different portraits of Bolívar. Bolívar Museum. Caracas

Bolívar as a young man and one of his last pictures 

A recent reconstruction of his face after the exhumation of his remains in 2010

Register of his baptism in the Cathedral of Caracas.
Bolívar Museum. Caracas

Baptismal font where Bolívar was baptized. It is 400 years  old (upper part) and belonged to the Cathedral of Caracas.

Bolívar Museum. Caracas

Simón Bolívar was born on July 24 1783, in Caracas. His parents were D. Juan Vicent Bolívar and Concepción Palacios y Sojo. The  Bolívar surname came from an aristocratic family in Spain who settled in Venezuela in the 16th century.

The ethymology of his name means millstone in Basque.

Coat of arms of his family in an old piece of furniture and in a 1920 painting

Simón Bolivar´s family was devoted to the Holy Trinity. This altarpiece is from San Francisco church (18th century). The painting is by Tito Salas, as most of the paintings in his house.

Bolivar´s house opened as a museum in 1921. The furniture is from the 18th and 19th centuries. Except for a few pieces, it didn´t belong to this house- it was donated to the museum.

The wealth of his family came from estates, a sugar plantation and mines. The size of his house, some old furniture and decorations reveal the richness of his family.

This wardrobe belonged to his sister Maria Antonia who always remained faithful to the Spanish crown

Picture of his cousin painted by the famous painter Tovar y Tovar

China imported from Europe

Huge mirror from his mother

This litter that was carried by 4 slaves also belonged to his mother

A palia used in the process of sugar production can be seen in Bolívar´s birthplace in Caracas, now a museum.

Simón Bolívar was soon after his birth entrusted to the care of the family's slave la negra Hipolita. He received private lessons from Andrés Bello  and Don Simón Rodriguez, who later became Bolívar's friend and mentor.

He had short stature and his shoes were size 36

Following the early deaths of his parents, Bolívar travelled to Mexico, France and Spain. In Madrid he met and married his only wife, María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaiza. Less than a year after returning to Venezuela with her, she died from yellow fever. Bolivar would later refer to her death as the turning point of his life, as the recent Venezuelan/ Spanish production of  El Libertador tried to show:

Detail of a painting about his wedding. It is rather curious to note that Bolívar is the one holding the bouquet of flowers. According to tradition it was the youngest  who should carry the flowers and his wife was older than him.

Detail of a painting by Tito Salas Battle of Araure in which Bolivar was named El Libertador

In 2008 I visted the historical centre in Trujillo, Casa de Guerra e Muerte, where Simón Bolivar signed the famous document on 15th June 1813.

Here we could also see some objects he used when he slept in this house.

As a man of the military, Bolívar was instrumental in South America, in the fight against Spanish rule and became the leader of their independence. Caracas was retaken in 1813 and Bolívar was hailed as El Libertador. Afterwards he entered Bogotá in 1814, recapturing the city. 1821 saw the creation of the Gran Colombia, under his leadership. This federation included much of what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. In 1824 he became leader of  Peru, and Bolivia, named after Símon Bolívar, was created in 1825.

A ball was staged at Quinta de Anauco in Caracas in honour of Simón Bolívar’s last night in his hometown, in July 1827: he was never to return alive.

It is very interesting to visit Bolívar´s House and Museum in Caracas, where you can find many obects that belonged to him:

A pair of tiny pistols that he carried in his sleeves

 A neck protector

Beautiful this mini suitcase bar. The bottles have the shape of books.

The rim of this kitchen utensil is sharp so that  the slaves could not taste the cacao

Bogotá, Colombia.
 Museo Nacional

Quinta de Bolívar, Bogotá, is a country mansion that was donated to Simón Bolívar in gratitude for his services. He used it as a retreat on various occasions. It is now a museum furnished in the style of Bolívar´s time filled with some of his possessions.

Bolívar´s room. Quinta Bolívar. Bogotá

Jose Palacio´s bedroom

Jose Palacio was a freed slave born in 1770. At the age of 22 he vowed to Bolívar´s mother, on her deathbed, that he would accompany and look after her son, Simón, who was then only 9 years old and he fullfilled his promise. Bolívar left him the sum of 8000 pesos in his will as a compensation for his services.

Bolívar died at the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in the island of Santa Marta, Colombia in 1830 and was repatriated to Caracas in 1842.

Bolivar´s name was given to some of the most important plazas in the capitals of South American countries he helped to make free from the Spanish rule.

Plaza Bolivar, Caracas                  

              Plaza Bolívar, Bogotá

Plaza Bolívar Panama

If you travel in Venezuela, you will find many cities with beautiful statues of their hero riding his horse Paloma.

Plaza Bolívar, Mérida                                                                                Plaza Bolívar, Cordero

I particularly like this painting by Tito Salas where Simón Bolivar is portrayed as a civilian. Perhaps the idea was to show his human side.

This is when my family and I met someone impersonating Simón Bolivar in Caracas

Famous Quotes:

"The continuation of authority has frequently proved the undoing of democratic governments. Repeated elections are essential to the system of popular governments, because there is nothing so dangerous as to suffer power to be vested for a long time in one citizen. The people become accustomed to obeying him, and he becomes accustomed to commanding, hence the origin of usurpation and tyranny".

"The first duty of a government is to give education to the people"

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