Front and Rearguard: Women in the Civil War

The 1930s was a paradigmatic era in the progress and regression of the situation women faced in Spain across all spheres. Women’s public visibility in the years of the Second Republic was strengthened through their active role in the Civil War, both on the front and in the rearguard, but curtailed by the victory of the Nationalist faction. This microsite, therefore, explores in greater depth the lines of research and acquired works that have given rise to the room Front and Rearguard: Women in the Civil War, and also features collaboration with different specialists who analyse the context of women artists and the most significant works from this period in the Collection.

Curator and director of the project:
Rosario Peiró (Head of the Collections Area) – See video presentation

Ángeles Santos, The Gathering, 1929

Women During the Second Republic


The years presided over by the government of the Second Republic (1931–1936) were key to advances in the process of women’s emancipation that was already under way but ultimately cut short by the National faction’s victory.

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Josep Renau, Desembarazándose de su envoltura de superstición y miseria, de la esclava inmemorial ha surgido LA MUJER capaz de tomar una parte activa en la elaboración del porvenir (Fotomontaje para el Pabellón de la República en la Exposición Universal de París), 1937 / Copia póstuma. MNCARS

Women and Politics


The successive governments that occupied power from 1931 until the end of the Civil War adopted reformist measures that materialised in laws attempting to advance towards equality for women and recognise their rights in political, civil and social regulations.

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The Image of the Republican Woman


Within the substantial number of Republican war posters, our focus is the construction of the image of women, in which new prototypes emerging from the revolution are seamlessly juxtaposed with images perpetuating inherited roles.

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Actividades de la F. N. Mujeres Libres [fotomontaje de Carlos Pérez de Rozas]. Madrid / Barcelona: Mujeres Libres, [1937?]. España. Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte. Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica. FA-00078

Free Women and AMA


Mujeres Libres, or Free Women, was an organisation founded in 1936, largely by anarchist women workers who defended anti-fascism and social revolution. The Association of Anti-fascist Women (AMA) was the largest women’s organisation during the Civil War, with members estimated to total around 65,000.

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Julia Minguillón, Escuela de Doloriñas, ca. 1941

The Nationalist Faction


The ideal image of women during early Francoism was as mother and wife, a role that magazines, posters and artistic representations took on to disseminate and amplify.

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Works in the Collection


Francis Bartolozzi (“Pitti”) and Kati Horna are an example of how women’s artistic creation managed to find a place in 1930s Spain, which is why their work and careers feature heavily in this project.

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