The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
The Spanish Civil War began on July 18, 1936 and, with aid from Germany
and Italy, spread rapidly. By November Madrid was under siege. But worse was
to come: during little more than three hours on the afternoon of April 26,
1937, German Junker and Heinkel bomber planes virtually annihilated the cultural
center and ancient capital of the Basque region, Guernica. Hundreds of its
population of 10 000 were killed. Those who escaped the bombings were
strafed by fighter planes as they fled their fields and markets. The news
reached Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in Paris three days later. Outrage galvanized
him. Already working—without success thus far—on a contribution
to the Spanish Pavilion at the upcoming French International Exhibition, he
exchanged his Muse for Fury. Hundreds of images flowed from his hand. Within
weeks the 55-year-old Picasso had completed the monumental mural—it
was more than 25 feet long and nearly 300 square feet in area—known
simply as Guernica. Viewers could not decipher its
strange and horrible images, but its meaning was clear enough. Almost 70 years
later, it is still recognized as one of the most powerful anti-war paintings
ever created. Modern art historian Herbert Read has referred to it as “the
modern Calvary.” Guernica is Picasso’s
signature, writ large.
Southgate MT. Weeping Woman With Handkerchief. JAMA. 2004;292(18):2193. doi:10.1001/jama.292.18.2193
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