The University of Wisconsin Press

Art / Architectural History / Latin American Studies


Paris en Panamá / Paris in Panama
Robert Lewis and the History of His Restored Art Works in the National Theatre of Panama
Anton Rajer

In English | En Español

"Paris in Panama is an inspiring bilingual book documenting my country's art and history. It brings alive an important and lost chapter in Latin America's artistic heritage and focuses on the need to preserve and restore it."
—Carmen Aleman Healy, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Panama

This fascinating bilingual book describes for the first time in print the incredible story of the history and restoration of Roberto Lewis's (1874–1949) masterpieces in the National Theatre in Panama. Lewis, who was born in Panama, created his monumental works of art on canvas while living in Paris and brought them to Panama in 1907 for installation in the new theatre, an Italian opera house on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, not far from the Panama Canal. The fully illustrated and researched book places Lewis in the context of Belle Epoque France and documents the recent four-year art restoration process. Included are copies of the original contracts, newspaper articles, and drawings by Lewis for his murals. UNESCO declared Lewis's artistic creation a Cultural Heritage of Mankind in 1997.

For more information about the book, in both English and Spanish, click here.

this is a photo of author Anton Rajer, at work on a conservation project. He is bearded, wearing glasses, and wears a blue work apron over his shirt.Anton (Tony) Rajer (1952–2011) was an art conservator, a continuing education teacher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and an author. He had a long and distinguished career, which included, among many other accomplishments, a certificate in French studies at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and a certificate in conservation from Harvard. He spoke five languages fluently and worked on art conservation projects internationally. The University of Wisconsin Press distributed three of his books, Public Sculpture in Wisconsin: An Atlas of Outdoor Monuments, Memorials, and Masterpieces in the Badger State, of which he was co-author, Museums, Zoos and Botanical Gardens of Wisconsin, and Paris en Panamá / Paris in Panama, an account of his restoration of a significant opera house in Panama. Rajer also volunteered at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, working with the Red Cross and FEMA.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

the cover of Rajer's book is dominated by a large color photo of more than half of the ceiling of the National Theatre of Panama. There is an inset photo of Robert Lewis, and a sepia vignette of the Effel tower and a bateau mouche on the Seine in front of it.

August 2005
LC: 98-090939
144 pp.   8 x 10    2 maps,
176 color and 74 b/w photos
Bilingual: English and Spanish

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Cloth $40.00 s
ISBN 978-9962-02-425-5
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Distributed for the Robert Lewis Research Project

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Updated June 20, 2012

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