From 1936-39, the Nationalists and Republicans fought for the rule of the country in theSpanish Civil War. General Francisco Franco (1892-1975) lead the Nationalists (monarchists, fascists, and Catholics) against the Republicans (A leftist group of Communists, socialists, and Catalan and Basque separatists). After failing to gain Madrid, the Nationalists began fighting in the North, the home of the Catalans and Basques who were anti-Franco. On April 26, 1937, General Franco and troops on loan from Hitler and Mussolini bombed the undefended Basque town of Guernica killing over 1,600 people and wounding many others. It is estimated that between 350,000 to 500,000 people were killed in the war and many others emigrated to other parts of Europe and the United States. Franco ruled as a dictator until his death in 1975.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) responded to the atrocity by painting Guernica (1937) for the Republican Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris. He represented images of death and loss rather than a literal image of the bombing. Today the painting is housed in the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

  1. What was the purpose of Guernica?
  2. What do the motifs represent in the painting?
  3. How does the Cubist style relate to the subject matter?