Sunday, October 8, 2017

Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War #2 : Franco

(this is the second installment; the first group of propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War is here)

Franco found here 
by J. Davó (signed at lower left) and printed by the Romero Lithograph (Tenerife, Canary Islands). Excellent use of a limited number of colors.

A smiling Franco, atop a white horse leads 2 columns of supporters. Those on the left carry the red and yellow pre-republic, red and yellow civil ensign Spanish flag (or the royalist flag if a crest is hidden in the fold). The column on the right carries the red and black flag of the Falange. Franco and his horse complete the cross.  "Julio 18, 1936" refers to the date of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The rays behind the cross evoke a dawn.

Franco's horse steps on a red snake, a traditional symbol of evil, holding a hammer and sickle in its mouth. The symbols of the hammer and sickle were used by some political parties of the Republican Left.

Not to be cruel, but Franco was not a particularly handsome man and yet here he is drawn in a remarkably flattering way while retaining his likeness. Contrast it to the painting below by Paco Ibera. Franco is as reality would have him : balding, bags under his eyes and a rounded chin (disguising a double chin that can be seen in the photo of Franco later in the page.

Dictator in Furs by Paco Ibera
This was previously mentioned here. Go to that link for more commentary on this.


"Franco cut off at the knees" may not have been the creator's intent

Una Patria! Un Estado! Un Caudillo! (One fatherland! One state! One strongman!)

I suspect this is not from the Spanish Civil War but afterwards.  Cropping Franco off at the knees making him look like Dorf the Dictator. I find it interesting that while there is a relatively bright contrast between the Spanish-French border there is less contrast between the Portugese-Spanish border – it is only slightly more pronounced than the internal borders. Franco presents him self simply : a lack of epaulets or furs or rows of medals.

The font seems very 1930s.


The next portray Franco is a less flattering way.

 Izquierda Republicana En Vanguardia Contra El Fascismo Internacional (Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism) by Petit Guillén Carteles  de la Republica y de la Guerra Civil #180
Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism! (Seriously, you would think they would have included an exclamation point or 2)

Izquierda Republicana En Vanguardia Contra El Fascismo Internacional (Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism) by Petit Guillén (signed at lower left)

from the upper left is Jose Maria Gil Robles (with a pear for a head and bald except for a stem on top) he wears a Sacred Heart necklace to note his Catholicism. Next to him is Benito Mussolini wearing a tiny hat. Below Gil Robles is Adolph Hitler looking sad with his head cocked horizontal.
from left to right : Gil Robles (no stem on top), Francisco Franco and unknown.

Below Hitler is a short, cartoony, Chaplinesque Francisco Franco with a swastika and a death's head on his hat and a sword in his raised hand.

They are all wrapped in the Spanish Republican flag (red, yellow and purple) being pulled by a Republican soldier. While Mussolini, Hitler and Gil Robles are bound together, Franco only has the flag wrapped on one side and he holds a sword that can probably cut fabric.

To the right, behind the soldier, and at the far right is Manual Azaña and his awkward, wrongly drawn hand and pointy finger gesturing upwards. Unlike Franco in the first image, I think here Azana looks little better than reality.

photograph of Manual Azaña (note that the artist wasn't exceptionally unflattering it is just that Manual Azaña looked like a muppet in real life.)

Surrounding Azaña is a crosshatch of white.  Part of the problem likely being those on the left (of the poster) were drawn by a skillful cartoonist while Azaña was likely drawn by the cartoonist copying a photograph and trying to draw realistically while his real talents line in his skill as a cartoonist.

At lower right is a logo "Junta Municipal Delegation de Propaganda Valencia" (Municipal Board Delegation of Propaganda Valencia) (as an aside it is a nice font)

A striking contrast in styles; cartoony for the villains and realistic for the politician and idealized for the Republican soldier.


el generalisimo by Pedero Carteles de la Republica y la Guerra Civil #551
el generalisimo by Pedrero (signed at lower left)

#551 in Carteles de la Republica Y la Guerra Civil
Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid

I imagine that  the title "el generalisimo" in all lower case was intended to be diminishing towards someone grandiose enough to call himself "el generalisimo."

Francisco Franco as death himself dressed in a long grey coat, a black and red cape, white gloves, and spurs. His hand on his sword and his cape carried by an obese army general, an obese capitalist and an obese friar toting a rifle. Again, Franco is shown wearing a swastika.

The helmet is more like a Prussian/German pickelhaube than a contemporary Spanish army helmet (at least as far as i've seen. In fact, while I've browsed through many photos from the Spanish Civil War the only helmets I've seen are on the Republican side. The overseas cap seems to have been worn on the Nationalist side.) Franco's white gloves remind me of the white gloves a plethora of animated cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse wear.


el generalisimo by Antonio Cañavate Carteles de la Republica Y la Guerra Civil #552
el generalisimo by Antonio Cañavate (signed)
I.E. el generalisimo
Junta Delegada de defensa de Madrid
Rivadeneyra, UGT  Madrid

I think this is the most effective. It is fun, interesting and harshly mocking. Francisco Franco on his My Little Pony (with a swastika brand). The chubby horse smiles at a butterfly as it rears up while striking a coy David-esque pose.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques Louis David, 1801

Franco's chest is puffed out and he holds a wooden club (one of the knots is heart shaped). He wears an extravagant uniform complete with epaulets, a sash, side stripe pants, a hat with different colored feathers,He has a colorful horse blanket and a blunderbuss (outdated for a 100 years). I'm not sure why his skin is orange, perhaps to comment on his tan from his years in Morocco and the Canaries.

From the swirling clouds drop 2 bombs. The cactus in the background is made up of faces.

It is interesting that the swastika is attached to Franco by his opponents but Franco did not use it as a symbol used to represent the Nationalists. The symbol used by Franco is the old national flag - horizontal red, yellow, red stripes or the red and black Falange symbol and, of course, he used himself as a symbol.

In contrast, elements of the Spanish left also freely adopted the hammer & sickle for themselves (in particular : the PCE, Partido Comunista de Espana aka the Spanish Communist Party and PSU the Partido Socialista Unificado aka Unified Socialst Party and POUM Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista aka the Worker's Party of Unified Marxists).

Keep in mind that at the time of the Spanish Civil War the Nazis were thugs and totalitarians but not yet genocidal mass murderers while the Soviet Union were also totalitarians and thugs but had also been responsible for the death of thousands of forced laborers constructing the White Sea Canal,  the Holodomor, a man-made famine killed millions, and Stalin's Great Purge had started. Different standards for different totalitarians I suppose.

Note the stark contrast in the message being sent : This poster and the "Izquerida Republicana" present Franco as a joke. A puffed up cartoon dandy. But the one between them shows Franco as a gigantic walking death.

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