Guardias civiles tomados como prisioneros (Civil Guards Taken as Prisoners)

Luis Quintanilla

Santander, Spain, 1893 - Madrid, Spain, 1978
  • Series: 
    Dibujos de la Guerra. 1937 (War Drawings, 1937)
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Indian ink on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    41,2 x 32 cm
  • Category: 
    Work on paper, Drawing
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

Luis Quintanilla journeyed to Spain from southern France, where he was based in 1937, with the intention of travelling along the front and, through his drawings, leaving a record of the sorrowful events of the Civil War. On 1 May, he witnessed the surrender of Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza Monastery in Jaén, where a group of civil guards had taken refuge with their families for a period of some nine months. These are the events shown in the illustration. Like almost all of the works that make up this series, in Guardias civiles tomados como prisioneros (Civil Guards Taken as Prisoners, 1937), the touch of Intimism which the artist has used to depict the scenes serves as a counterpoint to the natural propagandistic intent inherent to this type of work. As a result, there are sometimes nuanced versions of the dramatic effects so commonly found in other creators who also bore witness to the episodes of the Spanish military conflict, including Horacio Ferrer, Antonio Rodríguez Luna, Francisco Mateos, Enrique Climent and Arturo Souto. In his Memoirs, Quintanilla describes the surrender by the occupants of Santa María de la Cabeza: “From amidst the ruins of the monastery, located high atop a hill, those men slowly emerged, shattered, perhaps more by their awareness of the crime than by their misery. For behind them their families had to be evacuated in deplorable physical condition, and they felt the anguish of the responsibility of soldiers who have betrayed their oath. I made quite a few sketches using them as models. And when I helped the women with some special foodstuffs I had obtained, they kissed my hands with great emotion, not for the material assistance, but for the solace and show of respect which our attitude represented [...] I wanted to get a good look at the inside of the monastery ruins, but I gave up the idea: it was a sort of pestilent pigsty giving off clouds of fleas which only fire could purify. Then for the first time I drew what remains after the war, the destroyed trenches and the contorted bodies of the corpses.”

Paloma Esteban Leal