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Title: June 19 - For the wounded in Republican Spain
Date shown: June 19, 1937
Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website
Contact copyright: Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Pascal Segrette
Picture reference: 06-505806 / 2001.72.12
June 19 - For the wounded in Republican Spain
© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Pascal Segrette
Publication date: January 2019
The war in Spain seen from France
Although the two electoral alliances are called the "popular front", the new governments ruling France and Spain from 1936 onwards have a rather loose connection. Leon Blum's was elected with the slogan “bread, peace, freedom”, but he finds himself facing a wave of strikes and fierce opposition from the entrepreneurial elite. Support for the cause of the Republicans is complicated by dissensions in France and Spain between socialists and communists and by the strong underground influence of Moscow. The French distinguished themselves by the departure of volunteers for the International Brigades, and a cultural action symbolized by the flag of the Spanish Republic at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1937.
The poster June 19. Beyond the humanitarian emergency and the question of refugees which arouses various citizen mobilizations, the Spanish Civil War now occupies the media, fueling the political debate in the more general context of the fascist and authoritarian danger posed by Italy. Mussolini and Nazi Germany over the rest of Europe.
Marianne at the bedside of the victims
Founded at the beginning of 1937 in Paris in order to coordinate the actions of medical aid undertaken in several countries in favor of the Spanish Republic, the International Health Center (mentioned in the lower left of the image) is at the initiative of the creation of this poster. Its purpose is to solicit donations from the public (the address and postal check account are also indicated at the bottom right) to provide material and medical assistance to victims of the fighting (whether they are refugees in France or still located in Spain), as revealed by the name of the “Committee to help the wounded and disabled” which appears under that of the Centrale.
The poster features a blonde Marianne dressed and wearing red (with the traditional Phrygian cap). Concentrated, full of concern (see her eyes closed) but nonetheless voluntary (see the posture of the body and the expression of the face), she gently and carefully bandages the forearm (remarkably oversized) of a victim, of which one guess only the silhouette suggested by a rather miserable sort of coat.
If the author has favored a simple line to represent the "characters", the composition is nevertheless very sought after, modern: it uses geometric shapes (the diagonal at the top right separating two colored areas; certain details of the bodies) or characters. varied and quite original typographies. The choice of colors is also significant: the blue-white-red evoking the French Republic is completed by a variation of yellows (shining on Marianne's hair, sickly on the victim's arm), the black and the white of the text. . Finally, the inventive distribution of the textual elements (the date, the title) gives a real artistic quality to the whole work.
A call for “republican” solidarity
This poster develops a fairly obvious symbolism that can be understood by all. The IIIe French Republic represented by Marianne who treats Spanish Republicans fighting on behalf of another Republic. It is therefore not only a matter of providing "humanist" support to war-wounded among others, but of engaging in the name of republican, democratic and anti-fascist values (mentioned, perhaps, by the red clothes of Marianne) common to both countries and ultimately universal.
Despite more or less unofficial support from the Popular Front, the government, under pressure from the right-wing opposition, officially advocates "non-intervention" concerning events in Spain since 1936. It is therefore here an associative body and not government which calls for this republican solidarity. This poster calls out to citizens who must be faithful to the principles of the French Republic. By donating money to the committee or even getting more involved, they are accomplishing a highly political act that embodies this Republican ideal, making it live (here) and survive (there).
Finally, the visual eruption of the victim's arm in this elegant and pleasant composition catches our attention. Her unsightly and miserable ugliness contrasts sharply with Marianne's health, beauty and serenity. Thus it is suggested that the modern, strong and self-confident Republic - or rather the citizens who constitute it and to whom we are addressing here - is able to relieve and take in the wounded. It also implies that the fascist disease (plague or gangrene, evoked by the color of the arm) threatens and could soon concern France itself.
- Popular Front
- Blum (Leon)
- war in spain
- Franco (general)
- Third Republic
BENNASSAR, Bartolomé, The Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, Paris, Perrin, coll. “For History”, 2004.
HERMET, Guy, The Spanish War, Paris, Seuil, “Points histoire”, 2017.
RENOUVIN, Pierre, and REMOND, René Léon Blum, head of government. 1936-1937, Presses of the National Foundation for Political Science, coll. "References", 1981.
THOMAS, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War: July 1936 - March 1939, Paris, Robert Laffont, coll “Bouquins”, 2009.
VILAR, Pierre, History of Spain, Paris, PUF, 1996.
To cite this article
Alexandre SUMPF, "Support for Republicans from France"