Ignacio Zuloaga

23 10 2016

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta (July 26, 1870 – October 31, 1945) was a Basque painter, born in Eibar (Guipuzcoa), near the monastery of Loyola.

Zuloaga was fervently attached to the nationalist Falangist forces during the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorial regime of the Generalissimo Franco, whose portrait he painted in 1940. While the aerial devastation of Basque villages by volunteer airmen from Nazi Germany propelled Picasso to paint the epic and modern painting of Guernica, Zuloaga chose instead to honor the Siege of the Alcázar in 1936, when the building’s Nationalist defenders refused to surrender despite the building being in flames. This siege, and other events such as the death of General Moscardo’s son, served as a rallying cry for the anti-Republican forces.[14] The nationalist content of such a work was allied to Zuloaga’s celebration of folk traditions. However, in Spain, over the centuries, this anti-cosmopolitan nationalist focus had also been used to deport groups such as Jews, Moors, and Gypsies. Franco’s forces allied it with the Fascist urge to distill countries into unitary aggregates. Stylistically, the directness of the Siege painting also avoids modernity’s challenge to realistic depictions; falangism was not endeared to complex symbolism such as found in works such as Guernica.

While it may seem surprising for a Basque to have been sympathetic to the forces that leveled his hometown of Eibar, and for a Generalissimo that for years suppressed the teaching of Basque language in Spain, however, the Basque countries was also home to supporters of Carlism and their militia, the Requetés, who formed an uneasy alliance with the Falange.

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