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36 Spanish Civil War by Paintings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

Spanish Civil War

Watercolour - Signed and dated

Image Area: 15ins x 19ins

A large air and sea-lift of Nationalist troops in Spanish Morocco was organized to the south-west of Spain. Coup leader Sanjurjo was killed in a plane crash on 20 July, leaving an effective command split between Mola in the North and Franco in the South. This period also saw the worst actions of the so-called "Red" and "White" "Terrors" in Spain. On 21 July, the fifth day of the rebellion, the Nationalists captured the central Spanish naval base, located in Ferrol in north-western Spain.

A rebel force under Clonel Beorlequi Canet, sent by General Mola and Colonel Esteban Garcia, undertook the Campaign of Gipuzkoa from July to September. The capture of Gipuzkoa isolated the Republican provinces in the north. On 5 September, after heavy fighting the force took Irun, closing the French border to the Republicans. On 15 September, San Sebastian, home to a divided Republican force of anarchists and Basque nationalists, was taken by Nationalist soldiers. The Nationalists then advanced toward their capital, Bilbao, but were halted by Republican militias on the border of Biscay at the end of September.

The Republican government under Giral resigned on 4 September, unable to cope with the situation, and was replaced by a mostly Socialist organization under Largo Caballero. The new leadership began to unify central command in the republican zone. On the Nationalist side, Franco was chosen as chief military commander at a meeting of ranking generals at Salamanca on 21 September, now called by the title Generalisimo

Franco won another victory on 27 September when his troops relieved the Alcazar in Toledo that had been held by a Nationalist garrison under Colonel Moscardo since the beginning of the rebellion, resisting thousands of Republican troops who totally surrounded the isolated building. Two days after relieving the siege, Franco proclaimed himself Caudillo, while forcibly unifying the various and diverse Falangist, Royalist and other elements within the Nationalist cause. The diversion to Toledo gave Madrid time to prepare a defense, but was hailed as a major propaganda victory and personal success for Franco.

In October, the Francoist troops launched a major offensive toward Madrid reaching it in early November and launching a major assault on the city on 8 November. The Republican government was forced to shift from Madrid to Valencia, outside the combat zone, on 6 November. However, the Nationalists' attack on the capital was repulsed in fierce fighting between 8 and 23 November. A contributory factor in the successful Republican defense was the arrival of the International Brigades, though only an approximate three thousand foreign volunteers participated in the battle. Having failed to take the capital, Franco bombarded it from the air and, in the following two years, mounted several offensives to try to encircle Madrid. The battle of the Corunna Road, a Nationalist offensive to the north-west, pushed Republican forces back, but failed to isolate Madrid. The battle lasted into January 1937

It was during this period of 1936 that Norman painted his work "The Spanish Civil War" depicting the two sides of the conflict, one representing the poor and the other the wealthy. Norman was troubled by the events taking place in Spain, especially when the International Brigades started to arrive as many men from Britain enlisted to join force to fight.

Norman was only 20 years old when the Spanish Civil War broke out and the whole conflict affected him deeply

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