Exhibit in detail: Sculptural portrait of Victoria Ocampo

Our traditional column "Exhibit in Detail" presents the sculptural portrait of Victoria Ocampo, created by Paolo Troubetzkoy in 1914. The statuette, on display in the museum Collection, depicts a walking woman, dressed in a long, elaborate dress, with wide sleeves and a cape, with an upright egret on her head.

Victoria Ocampo (Ramona Victoria Epifanía Rufina Ocampo, April 7, 1890, Buenos Aires – January 27 1979) was an Argentine writer, public figure and publisher. She was known as a bulwark of other authors and publisher of the literary miscellany “Sur”, she was also a literary critic and one of the prominent South American women of the time. Igor Stravinsky dedicated the ballet “Persephone” to her and Jorge Luis Borges dedicated the story ”The Garden of Forking Paths” (1941) to her. In 1914, Paolo Troubetzkoy created her sculptural portrait in Rome.
Victoria Ocampo was born at the end of the 19th century in the family, the history of which was closely intertwined with that of the Argentine Republic. She had a happy glittering childhood and received a well-rounded education, which at that time was available to the privileged classes. The family was wealthy and their summer villa Ocampo outside Buenos Aires served as a meeting place for many of Argentinian and world greatest thinkers.
The family mansion hosted Argentinean writers Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Indian author Rabindranath Tagore, Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, French philosopher Albert Camus, Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca and many other prominent minds of the 20th century. During a family trip to Paris in 1906-1907, Victoria attended lectures at the Sorbonne and Collège de France. Victoria later recalled that she particularly enjoyed the lectures of Henri Bergson. She never received a classical education, though.

In 1912, Ocampo married Bernando de Estrada (also known as Monaco Estrada). The marriage was not a happy one; the couple separated in 1920 and Victoria had a long affair with her husband's cousin, the diplomat Julián Martinez.
In 1924, she invited Rabindranath Tagore, who had been living in Argentina, who that was living in Argentina at that period for reasons related to poor health, to her family villa in San Isidro, near Buenos Aires. Thanks to this meeting, Victoria discovered both -- one of the great Indian writers, and no less important, she detected her life mission, which was to host, encourage and help writers, artists and other creative people.

Her first book, written in French in 1923, was “De Francesca Beatrice", followed by Commentaries on “Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. The books of dialogues between Ocampo and Jorge Luis Borges and Ocampo with Virginia Woolf, a biography of Lawrence of Arabia and the posthumously published autobiography of Victoria Ocampo were been reprinted repeatedly.

As for the literary magazine “Sur”, which Victoria Ocampo had headed since its founding in 1931, became a well-known and influential issue not only in Latin America, but also in Europe and the United States. In 1933, Victoria started a publishing house with the same name, and the first book to be published was “Romancero Gitano” by Federico Garcia Lorca. Later, Aldous Huxley, Vladimir Nabokov, Carl Gustave Jung, Virginia Woolf, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Jack Kerouac books were published there. The last issue of the “Sur”, published at the end of 1976, was dealing with the problems of translation, an important aspect of the relationship between different cultures. The magazine tackles those issues in a serious, sophisticated manner and with true literary mastership inherent to Victoria Ocampo.

Victoria Ocampo was the founder of one of the first Women’s Liberation movements in Argentina, the Women's Association (1936). She headed the National Art Repository of Argentina.
After the Second World War she took part in the formation of UNESCO, was present at the Nuremberg trials, while travelling around Europe got acquainted with Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, General De Gaulle, Graham Greene (who dedicated his novel "The Honorary Consul", 1973, to Victoria) and other well-known personalities. She was in conservative-aristocratic opposition to the Peron dictatorship and spent a month in prison in 1953. Although she is sometimes condemned for her cosmopolitism, and she really worked hard to bring foreign literature and art to Argentina, one can hardly find a more loyal Argentine patriot than Victoria Ocampo. She became the first woman, a member of the Argentine Academy of Literature in 1976.
Victoria Ocampo died in Buenos Aires in 1979 and was buried at La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

On the cover: Portrait of Victoria Ocampo. Paolo Troubetzkoy. 1914