Visual Index (Entire Poster Collection)


Chronology of the War


Lists of References

Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


El Generalísimo

[The Generalissimo]. Signed: Pedrero. Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid. Delegación de Propaganda y Prensa. Sindicato de Profesionales de las Bellas Artes, U.G.T. Rivadeneyra U.G.T. Madrid. Lithograph, 4 colors; 100 x 70 cm

The inscription on this poster, El Generalísimo, refers to General Francisco Franco (1892-1975). Franco was one of the most prominent figures in the Spanish military during the late 1920s and 1930s; on July 17-18, 1936, he was one of the leaders of the military rebellion that led to the Civil War. On September 29, 1936, he was made Head of the Government of Nationalist Spain, and two days later he took on the role of "Head of State." When the Civil War ended on April 1, 1939, Franco was the undisputed leader of the victorious Nationalist army. He remained Spain's chief of state until his death on November 20, 1975. During the nearly forty years of his mandate, Franco ruled in a dictatorial, occasionally cruel and unforgiving manner, and had a ubiquitous, paternalistic presence in everyday life in Spain.

In reaction to the creation of a heroic figure of Franco by favorable Nationalist propaganda, this poster presents the generalísimo as a terrifying skeleton dressed in a cubist-style uniform inscribed with the Nazi swastika. The small effigies of the military, the capitalist and the armed clergyman that carry Franco's cape create an impression of servile dependence, and contribute to the frightening nature of the larger figure. The poster may simultaneously be interpreted as pointing to Franco's reliance on foreign aid (he is depicted as a German Nazi), and also on the quintessential conservative powers: the army, the wealthy capitalist, and the church.

Little is known of Pedrero, the author of this scene, other than his activity during the war. He was a member of the Fine Arts Section of the socialist trade-union (Sindicato de Profesionales de las Bellas Artes, UGT), which was one of the most important organizations of artists active in the propaganda effort during the war. He is know to have designed other propaganda posters for the Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid, the agency that issued this poster. This junta was a provisional government set up in Madrid on November 31, 1936; it was heir to the short-lived Junta de Defensa de Madrid, which was created after the government of the Republic fled the capital in view of what appeared to be its immediate fall to the enemy on November 6, 1936. The Junta Delegada de Defensa ceased to exist in late April (probably April 21) of 1937, when its functions were taken over by the municipal government of Madrid. This poster can therefore be dated between November 31, 1936, and the end of April 1937.

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