Catalina Lasa, who lived in Havana in the early twentieth century, was renown for her beauty. However, her love affair with sugar magnate Juan Pedro Baró forced their exile from Cuba for a few years—Catalina was already married and divorce was not yet possible. Eventually, however, they were able to marry and return to Havana, where they built a mansion in Vedado incorporating designs by famous Spanish and French architects of the time. Evelio Govantes and Félix Cabarrocas designed the exterior in Italian Renaissance style and the interior in art deco style. French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier influenced the design of the gardens. When completed, the mansion was described as the most beautiful in Havana.
Catalina died in Paris in 1930 and her remains were brought to Havana. Her mausoleum, designed by French artist Rene Lalique, is one of the most visited in Havana’s Colón cemetery. Mario is pictured standing in front of its sculpted granite doors.
(Read more in: Havana Deco, by Alejandro G. Alonso, Pedro Contreras and Martino Fagiuoli.)