The most iconic sculpture of the Mexico City, after the famous Independence Angel or El Angel, is the fountain of the naked goddess Diana that stands on a roundabout near the Paseo de Reforma or Reforma Avenue and hunting with her bow and arrow over the main thoroughfare of the city for nearly 65 years. The statue of Diana the Huntress is depicted by the sculptor as aiming her bow and shooting the arrow to the skies. It was in the year 1942, when the then President of the country, Manuel Avila Camacho, decided to make a project for the beautification of the Mexico City.
As a part of the project, architect Vincente Mendiola and Sculptor Juan Olaguibel were commissioned to create a fountain in a roundabout near the entrance of Chapultepec Park on the Reforma Avenue.
When a 16 year old Helvia Martinez, working for Pemex, the Mexican state-owned Petroleum company, was chosen as a model for the fountain, she was given a treat with ice cream, in an attempt to make her convinced to be the muse for a sculpture that would be placed on one of the main avenues in Mexico City and would make her immortal.
Martinez had never imagined that she would be a model, because her family always used to say that she was ugly and was very much conscious about her physical looks. At 16, she studied and worked to help her mother. In the morning she attended the Miguel Lerdo de Tejada School where she was in the secretariat and in the afternoon she changed her uniform for skirts and blouses, as she was working as the secretary of the general director of Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company.
Suddenly, when she got the offer and was convinced that the invitation was legitimate and would immortalize her, Martínez Verdayes did not think twice to accept the offer.
However, on her first day in the studio, when she was told that even wearing a bathing costume would not serve the purpose, as it would hide the muscles in some of the parts of her body, she felt scared. Nevertheless, she gained confidence, as she became aware about the presence of the sculptor’s wife and children in the place and took off everything until she was completely naked. At the same time, to avoid scandalizing her family and losing her Pemex job, she accepted the offer without any charge, with the condition that the sculpture should not have her face and her identity as the model should never be exposed.
The beautiful statue of Diana the naked huntress was inaugurated on 10 October 1942 and was appreciated by most of the people gathered on the occasion. However, the request of Martínez for not exposing her identity as the model proved to be a good move, when weeks after the unveiling of the sculpture, the ultra conservative sections of the society called the Decency League, along with the then first-lady of Mexico, Soledad Orozco de Ávila Camacho, was scandalized and denounced the nude depiction of Diana, mounted high in all her natural splendor with bow drawn above a fountain on the city´s main drag. They demanded proper modifications of the statue and ultimately forced the artist to put a loin cloth on Diana.
Finally, good sense prevailed and before the 1968 Olympics, it was decided to remove the unaesthetic loin cloth from the statue of the naked huntress. Unfortunately, the attempt damaged the sculpture and it was removed to Ixmiquilpan, the home town of Juan Olaguibel. Later, by popular demand a copy of the original sculpture was installed on Reforma Avenue in 1992.