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"The Spanish Soldier" by Xavier Bueno
"The Spanish Soldier" by Xavier Bueno
"The Spanish Soldier" by Xavier Bueno

BACK TO SPAIN

This heroic image was painted in 1938 by Spanish artist Xavier Bueno. The artist titled his painting The Spanish Soldier and dedicated it to the memory of his friend, Nazario Cuartero, who died defending Madrid from fascist armies.

The tragic portrait shows the anti-fascist defender suffering from a serious gun shot head wound. He gazes in puzzlement at the blood spurting from his head, staining his clothes and hand. The sadness and profundity of this remarkable painting almost takes on religious proportions, with the emotional intensity of the work heightened by the artist's use of a monochromatic palette. This moving portrait sums up the despair felt by the people of Spain and of the world, as the Spanish republic was slowly being strangled by the combined armies of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco.

1938 brought defeat after defeat for the forces of republican Spain, and a year later the fascist armies succeeded in totally crushing the republic. General Franco's fascist troops entered Madrid on March 27th 1939. On April the 1st, the fascist general announced the "end" of the war; full scale repression followed. There was mass flight from Madrid and the United States recognized Franco's government. In 1945 the United Nations declared Franco's fascist Spain to be unfit for membership in the world body, but in 1953 the U.S. signed a "defense agreement" with Franco. The fascist regime continued to rule with an iron hand until Franco's death in 1975. Spain's first democratic elections since 1936 were held in 1977.
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