Pablo Picasso - Sueno Y Mentira de Franco
2 Original Etchings with Aquatint 8/9th January 1937 , on Montval paper, with Montgolfier watermark, signed with the stamped signature of the artist. Supplied without the portfolio cover but with the printed poem of Picasso and two other sheets from the portfolio papers.
Edition: 850 - There was also an edition of 150 hand signed proofs.
References: These are fully documented in the Standard works on Picasso's etchings:
Georges Bloch “Catalogue de l’oeuvre grave et lithographie (1904 - 1967) - Vol 1 - Reference 297
Brigitte Baer “Picasso Peintre-Graveur - Catalogue Raisonee de L’Oeuvre Grave et des Monotypes (1935 - 1945) - Volume III : Reference BB. 615. IInd State B.e ;
Patrick Cramer: Picasso “Livres Illustres” Number 28
Note 1 : These famous prints were a political protest against the atrocities committed by General Franco in the Spanish Civil War which was raging at the time. Franco had just instigated a coup d’etat and become the leader. The original idea was to make individual postcards of the 18 etchings made by Picasso. The artist had been inspired by the comics and images of Epinal. Picasso intended that these etchings be sold at the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World Fair in 1937 to raise funds to fight. Facism. The grotesque imagery of Franco derives from the spiral-bellied “Ubu Roi”, Alfred Jarry’s famous personification of ignorance and brutality, which would, at the time, have been widely understood. In these works Picasso derides the exploits of the spurious “Caballero” Franco who, instead of attacking the enemy, strikes his own horse. He fights under the banner of a flea and prays at the alter of money. He is shown as a sort of Phallic Centaur sitting astride a pig and finally as a monstrous horse, vanquished by a triumphant bull. Picasso eventually abandoned the idea of making postcards from his 18 etchings and finally decided to make them into two plates for this series. With the recent bombing of Guernica in mind he etched the other 4 scenes, no longer in the style of caricature, but clearly derisory of his adversary. The tyrant is accused by suffering women and by mothers crying out in despair. The general themes are : The destruction of Art, The consequences of Totalitarianism and the effects of pointless war on innocent people. The work came in a folder (alas now missing) with Picasso’s poem written in the Expressive, Surrealist style which was a feature of his work at the time. Not everyone knows that Picasso wrote poetry and was highly regarded for his literary works in this oeuvre. In his poem Picasso evokes tumults and subversions, but also denounces the suffering in a great sequence of cries: "cris d'enfants, cris de femmes, cris d'oiseaux, cris de fleurs, cris de charpentes et de pierres...". The proceeds from the sale of these etchings went to a fund for aiding Republicans in Spain. It is well known that Picasso had an enduring hatred of the regime of Franco and swore a famous oath, which he kept to, never to return to his native country until the Dictator was dead and his country freed. Picasso’s famous work “Guernica” was made at the same time and in much the same style. His use of small cartoon imagery is at once mocking and shocking. He derides the oppressive and proud General Franco by showing him as foolish, cruel and stupid. He also shows, more especially in Plate II, the cruelty and slaughter which was caused by the ferocious and unremitting Civil War. These are shocking, classic and iconic images of a sad and violent historical period.
Note 2: The images relate as follows:
- Franco riding a horse waving a sword and a flag
- Franco, with a ridiculously large penis, waving a sword and a flag
- Franco attacking a classical sculpture with a pick
- Franco dressed as a courtesan with a flower and a fan
- Franco being gored by a bull
- Franco at prayer surrounded by barbed wire
- Franco on top of a dead creature
- Franco chasing a winged horse
- Franco riding on a pig carrying a spear
- Franco eating a dead horse
- The aftermath of a battle with a corpse
- The aftermath of a battle with a dead horse
- Franco and a bull
- Franco and the bull fighting
Additions to the second plate (including studies for Guernica) which were etchings without aquatint:
- A woman crying and reaching up
- A woman fleeing a burning house carrying a child
- A woman cradling a child
- A woman shot with an arrow and reaching up amid devastation
Note 3: The Copper Plate, cancelled in 1983, still exists.
Public Collections: MOMA, New York ; Picasso Museum, Malaga ; University of Iowa Museum of Art,; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Peggy Gugenheim Collection, Venice ; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; Art Gallery of New South Wales,
Condition: Both works are in generally good condition but with some some brown foxing at the edge of the sheet. The signature stamps, as normal, are slightly faded.
Printed by: Lacouriere, Paris, France, June 1937 - printed just the etchings. The printer for the text and folder is unknown.
Size: 317 x 422 mms (plate size); 388 x 560 mms (Paper size)