[Manuscript letter, signed, from the Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio Bucareli y Ursua, to the Provincial of the Mission at San Diego requesting a report on the activities of the priests in the province], 1776
A manuscript letter sent by the Viceroy of Spain to the head of the San Diego Mission, requesting a report on missionary acticivies in the wake of an uprising by native Indians against the mission. The Mission San Diego de Alcala, founded by Junipero Serra in 1769, was the first Franciscan mission in the Californias…in November 1775 a large group of local Indians attacked the San Diego Mission, destroying the buildings and killing one of the missionaries. In the present letter, written just a few months after the news of the incident reached Mexico City, Bucareli y Ursua launches an investigation into affairs at the mission and other religious establishments in the province of California. He requests an accounting of the number of priests who arrive and depart the missions, the alms they collect, and the names of convents and monasteries under their care.—Bookseller’s description
Conferencia de Unidad, circa 1936-1939
This small poster announces a meeting to take place on the 10th of August (the year is not indicated). The text on the poster reads, “Conference of Unity for the demands of the Youth.”
From our exhibit: Call to Arms
¿Como ayudar a los hospitales de sangre? …
[How can you help the blood banks? Buy a raffle ticket and take part in this charitable event.]. . Comisión Organizadora Hospitales de Sangre y Guarderias de Niños del Sindicato Unico Regional de Peritos y Tecnicos Industriales, C.N.T.-A.I.T. Lithograph, 4 colors; 153 x 104 cm.
In the foreground of the poster, a soldier, bathed in red in order to highlight his revolutionary character, appears to be falling in battle. His legs intersect at the bottom of the poster with two fingers from a hand extended from the left. Behind these figures, there is the image of a Red Cross nurse. The general color scheme of the image is red, white, and blue. These images and color scheme formed a template, of sorts, on to which were put a range of messages to garner support for the aid organizations, Hospitales de Sangre and Guarderias del Niño. The text asks viewers to purchase a raffle ticket. Such raffles were a strategy to raise money for aid organizations that provided social services like medical care for the wounded and social support for children.
This poster was probably printed in 1936 at the outset of the civil war in Spain. In 1937, the Republican government placed several of its semi-public relief agencies under the management of its Ministry of Public Education and Health. Little is known about the Hospitales de Sangre or the Guarderias del Niño. One source seems to indicate that these organizations were associated with relief efforts organized by international relief organizations such as the Socorro Rojo Internacional (SRI). As a contemporary account of a relief worker in Spain attests, the structural and administrative interface of international relief organizations and those of the government or the government itself could be, at times, quite difficult to coordinate. This difficulty was especially prevalent in Nationalist Spain, especially towards the end of the conflict when it victory of Nationalist forces seemed more probable. Throughout the war, the Nationalist government had been held accountable by the Burgos Agreement, which stipulated, among other things, that the Nationalist government would not export food while receiving food aid at the same time.
The artist of the poster is unknown.
From our online exhibit: The Visual Front
Spanish Civil War Handbill, [1936-1939]
Demonstrate that you are a descendant of Agustina of Aragon; inspire your countryman, children and brothers, even though in the rough fight you relinquish small parts in your own life. When you see our Spain free from the hoof of the fascist invader, and being the admiration of the world, you will feel happy and will understand that your sacrifice was not futile.
The second year of the Spanish Civil War coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917. As a coalition of left-leaning political parties, the Spanish Popular Front was touted as a government of the proletarian class, a distinction shared with only one other country, the Soviet Union. The Soviet decision to support the Republic as the democracies of Western Europe subscribed to the practice of non-intervention forged another bond between the Spanish and their fellow proletarians. Though some sectors of government opposed the growing influence of the Soviet Union, the celebration of twentieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution was a major event within the Republican zone.
From our online exhibit: Adhesive Propaganda
December 1936 - Spain - Madrid - Planet News Ltd.
EVACUATION OF MADRID. — Sixty thousand people, half of whom are children, have been evacuated from besieged Madrid within a week. Photo shows some of the departing non-combatants boarding a tramway-car.
From our online exhibit: Shots of War
Campesino, defiende con las armas al gobierno que te dio la tierra.
Artículo Primero: Se acuerda la expropiaciòn sin indemización y a favor del Estado de las fincas rústicas, cualesquiera que sea su extensión y aprovechamiento, pertenecientes en 18 de julio de 1936 a las personas naturales o sus conyuges y a las jurídicas que hayan intervenido de manera directa o indirecta en el movimiento insurreccional contra la República. Artículo Cuarto: El uso y disfrute de las fincas rústicas expropiadas según el artículo lo se dará a los braceros y campesinos del término municipal de su emplazamiento o de los colindantes, según los casos, con sujeción a las siguientes normas. Del decreto 7 de octubre 1936. El Ministro de Agricultura: Vicente Uribe Galdeano
[Peasant, defend with weapons the government that has given you the land… From the decree of October 7, 1936]. Signed: Renau. Ministerio de Agricultura. Gráficas Valencia, Intervenido U.G.T. C.N.T. Lithograph, 4 colors; 153 x 103 cm.
The artist Renau incorporated into his work part of the text of a law by which the land belonging to all those associated with the military rebellion was turned over to local peasants and day-laborers. The gun held by the muscular peasant is inscribed with the word decreto (decree). Curled around it, and run through by the bayonet, is a wounded snake, identified as the propietario faccioso(factious landlord). The use of this animal surely stems from the traditional use of snakes as symbols of evil, most notably in the case of the expulsion of Adam and Eve. The decree confiscating the land is presented in this poster as a weapon with which to defeat one group which had supported the military uprising that led to the Civil War: the land-owners. This decree was one of the most important efforts in the area of land reform during the war. It resulted in the transfer of nearly one-third of Spain’s arable soil to about 300,000 peasants. Vicente Uribe Galdeano, the Minister of Agriculture mentioned in the text, occupied the Ministry in the cabinets headed by Francisco Largo Caballero and Juan Negrín, from September 4, 1936 to nearly the end of the war. He was one of the most important Marxist theorists in Spain and a leader of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). As Minister of Agriculture, Uribe opposed the collectivization advocated by the anarchist and socialist trade-unions, and upheld a policy of more moderate agrarian reform which favored peasant proprietors and tenant farmers.
The issue of agrarian reform was one of the most contentious problems faced by the Spanish Second Republic from its birth in 1931. A symbol of its importance was the renaming of a street in Madrid during the Republican period as “Agrarian Reform Street.” It has also been seen as one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the war which began in July 1936. According to one historian, the war “was initiated [by the right-wing military rebellion] for the benefit of the large property owners, and they were the winners.” The basic problem was the uneven distribution of land: traditionally in Spain there existed large (more than 100 hectares), unproductive estates and numerous landless laborers, especially in the southern and southwestern regions of the country. This resulted in frequent conflicts and violence, including crop burning and robbery. The agricultural problem remained in the forefront during the years of the conflict, and was used by the government and other organizations in their efforts to secure a popular following, as this and similar posters show.
This poster is signed by Josep Renau, one of the most important artists represented in the Southworth Collection. A member of the Spanish Communist Party, he was active during the war both in art and in politics. On September 7, 1936, when he was only twenty-nine years old, Renau was named Director General of Fine Arts in the central government; in that post, he was in charge of safeguarding the artistic treasures of Spain. He was also one of the figures responsible for organizing the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1937 (for which Picasso painted Guernica). In a letter written in 1974, Renau dated this poster to 1936. It was therefore designed and printed between the date of the decree, October 7, 1936, and the end of that year. Since it was printed in Valencia, it was probably issued after the government left Madrid for Valencia on November 6. In the letter mentioned above, Renau says about this poster:
It is one of my worst posters. I made it in a hurry, in less than twelve hours, and the texts were added in the printing house. As can be seen, both the lay-out and the types of letters used are terribly bad. What could we do! It was the war. However, it is a true historical document: the official poster of the only and authentic agrarian reform that our unfortunate history has known. Aside from the extraordinary format, a very large edition was printed (I do not remember the exact numbers). It was posted even in the smallest towns throughout the territory controlled by the government of the Republic. Considering the stage of the mass-media at the time, this poster was the most useful means of informing and mobilizing the poorest peasantry in defense of the Republic. It was also the most efficacious way of increasing agricultural production in order to insure the provision of food to the front of the antifascist armed struggle.
Viewers today should not feel bound by the opinion of the artist about the quality of this poster; it remains an image of striking power. While the layout may be considered awkward, it may also be given a positive reading: the competing images of the larger-than-life laborer, the wounded snake swirling around the gun, and the hand with the sickle imbue the image with an unresolved tension which heightens the impact of each individual element. The strident colors, especially in the lower section, add a suggestion of fire-like heat that contributes to the compelling call made in the poster.
From our online exhibit: The Visual Front
Hoy más que nunca, VICTORIA
[Today more than ever, VICTORY]. Signed: Renau, 1938. SubPro. Graf. Ultra, SA, Córcega, 220, Barna. Lithograph, 7 colors; 99 x 138 cm.
This poster was issued by the Subsecretaría de Propaganda(Undersecretariat of Propaganda), an office of the central government which was headed by the renowned architect Manuel Sánchez Arcas. It was printed in Barcelona, where the government of the Republic had moved after leaving Valencia on October 31, 1937. The poster is an homage to the Republican Air Force, which remained loyal to the government to a larger degree than other sections of the military after the rebellion of July 1936. In the image, the planes in the “V” formation display the flag of the Republic on their wings. This is different from the red-yellow-red flag of the Spanish monarchy, which was used before and after the Republic and remains the flag of Spain to this day. Because of its close relationship with the Soviet Union, which supplied it with planes and provided training throughout the war, the Republican Air Force had strong communist sympathies. The poster may reflect the need to boost morale in Barcelona, which was heavily bombarded by the Nationalist airforces in the latter stages of the war.
Born in Valencia in 1907, Josep Renau was one of the artists most heavily involved in the Civil War. In 1931 he became a member of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), and in 1934 he was arrested for taking part in a revolutionary strike. On September 7, 1936, he was named Director General of Fine Arts by a fellow communist, Jes£s Hernández, who was Minister of Public Instruction in the government of Largo Caballero. Renau remained in that post until April 1938 and continued to be involved in the propaganda effort until he left Spain for exile early in 1939. As Director General of Fine Arts, Renau’s duties included the safeguarding of the artistic heritage of Spain. He was in charge of evacuating from Madrid to Valencia the paintings in the Prado Museum, which were threatened by the bombings. He was also one of the organizers of the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1937, where he was instrumental in securing Picasso’s commission to paint a mural for the pavilion, which resulted in Guernica. Renau was also an important force behind the conferring upon Picasso of the largely symbolic appointment as director of the Prado Museum. During the war, Renau designed numerous posters; as an artist, he specialized in painting and graphic design, and gradually became interested in photography. He was successful as a poster artist in the 1920s, winning numerous prizes and working on the design of billboards for the film industry.
The gleaming image of the pilot in this poster may be a reflection of this aspect of Renau’s career. In 1929, he was one of the first artists to use the technique of photomontage in Spain. He studied the work of John Heartfield, who became his favorite artist because of his active political stance and also because he favored photography over the more traditional medium of painting. On one occasion Renau said, “Yesterday Goya, today John Heartfield.” In 1933, Renau participated in the first Exhibition of Revolutionary Art held in Madrid (which included works by other artists present in this exhibition: Monleón, Rodríguez Luna and PÉrez Mateo). That year he also founded an important organization of left-wing writers and artists, the Unión de Escritores y Artistas Proletarios (Union of Proletarian Writers and Artists). In 1935 he founded and directed the magazine Nueva Cultura, where in 1936 he published an important theoretical manifesto entitled The Social Function of the Advertising Poster. After the war, he was exiled to Mexico and became a Mexican citizen. He worked with the mural painter Siqueiros, whom he had met during the war in Madrid, on a mural for the new building of the Union of Electricians in Mexico City. In 1958 he moved from Mexico to East Germany. After Franco’s death in 1975, Renau visited Spain periodically. He died in East Berlin in 1982.
From: The Visual Front: Posters of the Spanish Civil War