Who is the mysterious rosarina with the red sweater that Berni painted

The mystery reveals it to The capital the professor of the National University of Rosario (UNR) and researcher in art history, Guillermo Fantoni, in this Wednesday, October 13, the 40th anniversary of the death of the best-priced Argentine artist in the world. For those who want to enjoy his work, a list of seven paintings, plus five engravings and a drawing by the artist can be seen in the Museo Castagnino, by Pellegrini 2202.

When talking about the painting, Fantoni says that it is about Nina Terré, “a woman married to a doctor from the British Sanatorium, a close friend of Berni and his wife at the time, Paule Cazenave. Nina even knew how to take care of their little daughter, ( Helene Ann Margaritte) Lily Berni “.

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The work is called ” The Woman in the Red Sweater “and it’s in the Latin American Museum of Buenos Aires (Malba). Fantoni specially wrote the technical sheet for the work. But also, in the same Malba there is a photographic tribute to this painting entitled “Nicola Self-Portrait According to Berni”, made by Nicola Costantino, also from Rosario, in 2008.

Undoubtedly, many did not know until now who this woman had been, although she continues to speak, 86 years after being portrayed.

“It was believed that she was the lover of the father of the pedagogue Adriana Puiggrós, Rodolfo: a man who was a friend of Berni, a communist militant who became a Peronist. But no, it was Nina, Berni’s daughter, Lily, confirmed it to me. Nina was a species familiar to the Berni, who lived in Rosario between 1931 and 1936, so this portrait from 1935 is part of the Bernian production in this city. It must be taken into account that both Berni and his wife were part of a Rosario bourgeoisie close to the world of art, intellectual and political, in contact with doctors such as the brothers Lelio and Artemio Zeno, closely linked to communism and social medicine “, he adds Fantoni when referring to the family of the current councilor of the Progressive Democratic Party, Lisandro “Lichu” Zeno.

“It is as is,” Zeno told this newspaper, “even my great-grandfather went to Russia to work for the Revolution and there is a bronze of his in the central hospital in Moscow. Dr. Ana María Zeno was the daughter of Artemio, one of the founders of the sanatorium. British. In addition, Ana María, a woman who is advanced in sexual education, was a cousin of my grandfather Lelio, who was a patron of the Castagnino “.

The melancholic look

Fantoni, who just dedicated a special segment on this painting last Saturday in the Happening program on Radio Universidad, explains that Nina’s gaze in the painting is typical of many interwar portraits.

“It is melancholic, it is lost in thought, it is the melancholy of someone who designs a world,” says the researcher before adding that the red sweater has visible cuffs and a ring that is like a nod to aristocratic Italian painting.

“Nina had a daughter, Teresita, whom Lily Berni considered one of the most beautiful women in Rosario in her youth. And this daughter of Nina, I learned years later from her grandson and a high school classmate of mine, married later with a professor from the School of Letters of the National University of Rosario: Furio Lilli “, says Fantoni, 2016 Kónex award for Aesthetics, Theory and History of Art.


The family of Delesio Antonio Berni Such as its full name, it was made up of a mother of Italian descent who settled near Rosario, in the town of Roldán, and a tailor father. He was born in 1905 and was the third child of both, raised in the tenements of the Ferrocarril neighborhood. In 1925, when he was 20 years old, the Jockey Club of Rosario gave him a scholarship to study in Europe. That same year, after a short tour, Berni settled in Paris, where he would live for six years. He studied with André Lhote and Othon Fríesz, frequented a large number of artists, and There he met the sculptor Paule Cazenave, with whom he had his daughter. Shortly after his return to Argentina, Berni was considered a public person.

In the first months of 1934, together with a group of politically motivated young creators, they created a group that would establish a workshop school with their own means: the Mutualidad Popular de Estudiantes y Artistas Plásticos, with double action in the field of art and politics.

“Consequently, parallel to the realization of easel works in different scales and formal registers, the group carried out a new form of realism through mural experiences, heroic format paintings and graphic realizations that oscillated between the traditional print and the propaganda politics, “explains Fantoni.

Hence the large friezes with demonstrations and unemployed, fallen workers and allegories of war, peasants in assemblies and descriptions of suburban life, as it appears in the most recognized and emblematic paintings executed in those years. A New Realism that the artist formalized a year after painting his large format burlap oil painting (108 × 92.3 cm), The woman in the red sweater, “iconic”, according to Fantoni, during her decade of production, from 1932 to 1943.

In 1950, after separating from Cazenave, Berni married Nélida Gerino, mother of his son José Antonio Berni. In 1973 he began to live with Silvina “Sunula” Victoria, whom many point to as the muse of the Argentine avant-gardes, who would accompany him until shortly before his death in 1981.

Nicola’s Girl

“When I started making references to art history, ‘The Woman in the Red Sweater’ was one of the main ones I wanted to do. I was interested in that woman in an attitude of waiting, with a lost, melancholic gaze. I feel like I was like this from when I saw that painting until I was able to develop as an artist. Fu It’s a kind of eternal wait until I managed to do what I wanted, ”Nicola Costantino, the artist born 56 years ago in Rosario, told Malba networks .


In a interview where he also talked about the painting, he added: “When I was 7 or 8 years old my father bought a collection of fascicles about painting, and I think that was the first time I saw art. When Berni’s fascicle arrived and I saw his painting from the Woman in the red sweater, I remember having a kind of epiphany. I didn’t know what it was to be an artist but I wanted to do what that man did. “

Costantino reiterates that this work impressed her a lot. “I spent hours looking at how that man had painted the stitches of the sweater. Some time later, something similar happened to me – like so many others of my generation – when I saw the movie The Wall. It was a kind of confirmation about what I was going to do. to dedicate myself for the rest of my life. So I was a little sad girl, partly because I knew it would take a long time for me to start doing what I wanted so much. “

The Berni in the Castagnino

The director of the Castagnino museum, Raúl D´Amelio, confirms within the framework of this Bernian anniversary that there are currently seven Berni on display on the ground floor of the museum. But there are also many other works to enjoy, from Thursday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (tickets can be reserved by the web). “Of course all the people of Rosario are invited to see their paintings,” he remarked.

The complete list of works, with some images and details, is as follows:

“The little valley


Portrait”, from 1934 with a woman as thoughtful as the one in the red sweater, but in this case it is about his wife Paul Cazenave.

“Composition”, from 1937 also a portrait of Paul and Lili, his daughter, next to a folded tablecloth.

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“Portrait of Eva Clara Firpo de Muñiz”

Untitled (landscape)

In addition to these works are the engravings that Berni dedicated to the iconic character of Juanito, the poor boy who lived in the town of Bajo Flores.

The municipality of Rosario, in memory of that child and all childhood, created the interactive exhibition “Berni for children” in 2000. In 2002 he began his national tour, which toured Buenos Aires twice, Córdoba, Rafaela, the north of Argentina (Salta and Jujuy) and the south (Cipoletti, San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche) and summoned more than 250 thousand people in the whole country.

Currently, in the Children’s Garden (Lugones 2290, Parque de la Independencia) some of that sample is reflected in one of the playful spaces of the Triptych of Children, there is a device called Las Miradas and makes mention of Berni and his construction site.

About Juanito the following works can be seen in the Castagnino:

Juanito Laguna Series Engraving 1961

“Juanito hunting little birds”

“Juanito fishes with a net”

“Juanito with fish”

“Juanito bathing”

“Juanito fishing”

Graphite “Head”, 1927

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