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Mexico - Expo Paris 1889

Mexico at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889
Architect(s) : Antonio Anza, Luïs Salazar

Mexico has done a great deal, and its exhibition must be ranked among the most remarkable. From the very beginning, M. Ramon Fernandez, the sympathetic Minister of Mexico in Paris, did everything possible to induce his government to take part in this great manifestation of progress and to prove once and for all the strength of the friendship which unites it with France. The Mexican Republic did not hesitate to take part, and its support is absolutely official. A sum of one million francs was voted in the Mexican Parliament to cover the costs of the magnificent palace which was built, and a Committee was appointed, the honorary president of which is Mr. Ramon Fernandez and the effective president Mr. Diaz Mimiaga, Under-Secretary of State, with the character and functions of Delegate General Commissioner. The rest of the Committee is made up of the Consuls General of Mexico in France and in Spain, civil and military engineers, lawyers, writers, in a word, about twenty of the most remarkable personalities of the Mexican colony in Paris.

The architect of this absolutely original construction is also a Mexican, Mr. Antonio Anza, who was assisted by Mr. Luís Salazar, also a Mexican architect.

The palace is reminiscent of the architectural style of the races that inhabited this part of the New World before its discovery by Europeans.

The architect drew his inspiration from the materials of the work that will soon be published by the Mexican archaeologist, Dr. Peñafiel, under the title of Monuments of Ancient Mexican Art; he also made use of the work done on this architecture by Batinier, Humboldt, Lenoir, Huvou, and the documents contained in the works of Lord Kingsborough, Dufaix, etc.

The palace built by Mr. Anza recalls in the broad lines of its façade the history of the primitive races of the central part of Mexico. It symbolizes their beliefs by the temple raised to the Sun, which occupies the central part; it represents the beginning and the end of their political existence in the six bas-reliefs; it allegorizes their arts and their industry by the figures of divinities placed in the side pavilions.

This construction occupies an area of 2,159 square metres. It consists of two side pavilions and a large hall in the middle measuring 40 metres long and 24 metres wide. In the centre there is an elegant double staircase leading to the upper galleries.

Two allegorical figures represent the two civilisations, the southern and the northern, of the ancient inhabitants of what is now Mexico; they are located at each of the two entrances to the staircase.

The main elements of this construction are iron, cast iron and steel. The latter forms the covering and gives the walls the character of stone. The exterior decoration consists of twelve bronze bas-reliefs representing Mexican kings and deities, two caryatids, vases and fires. The main motif of the façade and the crowning of the entrance doors are made of cast and galvanised zinc; all the rest of the decoration is made of embossed zinc. The bronzes and zincs are by the Mexican sculptor Mr. Jesus Contreras.

The main products on display are: Photographs. - Maps and geographical and geological atlases. - Decorative and furnishing objects. - Printing and bookshop. - Collections and samples of rocks and minerals. - Wood for cabinet making and construction. - Textile materials. - Agricultural products. - Standing and processed tobacco. - Hides and skins. - Building materials. - Condiments and stimulants. - Sugars. - Wines and spirits. -Plants, flowers and fruits, etc.

In short, the whole of this installation, as an artistic monument, as an organisation and as products, is entirely beautiful, and if the initiative of Mr. Fernandez, Minister of the Mexican Republic, was for much in this great result, the direction of Mr. Diaz Mimiaga proves as much talent as good taste. In the middle of this Street of American Nations, Mexico stands out in a very glorious way for this great country.

© Guide Bleu du Figaro et du Petit Journal 1889