At least six universities hold lots of of artistic endeavors and libraries seized from politicians and intellectuals in the course of the Franco regime | Culture | EUROtoday

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At the tip of March 2023, the Prado Museum made public a report by professor and professor emeritus of the Complutense University of Madrid Arturo Colorado Castellary, the place he revealed that the nationwide artwork gallery had no less than 70 work seized by the Franco authorities after the War. Civil. These works belonged to each people – most of them exiled or died in the course of the conflict – and to non secular and personal collections. The goal of the investigation was to find out what number of had been within the palms of the nationwide museum, find their homeowners or descendants and return them. Now, Colorado has produced a brand new examine (The universities that benefited from Franco’s confiscations of inventive and heritage belongingss) the place it reveals the general public instructional facilities that hold lots of of confiscated artistic endeavors, along with 1000’s of books belonging to the libraries of the author Max Aub, the historian Américo Castro or the previous republican presidents José Giral and Alejandro Lerroux, amongst others. . The professor additionally emphasizes that universities, with some exceptions, aren’t involved in returning this heritage or have positioned obstacles in the best way of analysis.

During the Civil War, tens of 1000’s of artistic endeavors had been distributed in museums, warehouses, headquarters of political events and unions, bunkers or financial institution safes to keep away from their destruction by bombing by Franco’s air power. The Artistic Treasure Board, the physique that the Republic created to hold out the operation, photographed and packed 1000’s of a very powerful ones for evacuation. However, others seized by the anarchist union FAI-CNT, the Madrid Socialist Group, the International Brigades or Socorro Rojo, lacked any kind of documentation after they had been delivered to the Republican Junta. They had been saved and guarded as a lot as doable.

After the conflict, the Francoists created the National Artistic Heritage Defense Service (SDPAN) to return them to their homeowners. The drawback was that 8,710 of the 17,000 positioned thus far lacked documentation or their homeowners had died or fled into exile. So the authorities distributed them to official workplaces, museums, convents or church buildings. Furthermore, some had been claimed by unscrupulous individuals who recognized them as their property, individuals who noticed the chance to plunder them.

The copper called 'Biblical matter, from the Flemish school of the 17th century', delivered to the University of Murcia.  Photograph taken after the war
The copper referred to as ‘Biblical matter, from the Flemish faculty of the seventeenth century’, delivered to the University of Murcia. Photograph taken after the conflictIPCE, Arbaiza Archive

What Colorado has now found is that universities had been additionally beneficiaries of those transfers. “At least six received heritage goods, if we only count the shipments managed from Madrid: Murcia, Verano de Santander, Alcalá, Valladolid, Oviedo and Complutense de Madrid.”

The University of Murcia was awarded with a supply, on July 23, 1942, of eight work from the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. A spokesperson for this establishment explains that they’ve simply “begun a process of cataloging and enhancing the artistic heritage, made up of some 700 works,” of which “some of their origins are unknown.” However, the establishment believes that the eight work referred to by Colorado could also be “eight paintings that appear in the inventory as a direct donation made in 1948 by Álvaro D’Estoup Barrio, Marquis of Corvera.”

On July 10, 1942, a complete of 29 heritage belongings had been delivered to the Summer University of Santander, the seed of the present Menéndez Pelayo International University: sculptures, crosses, liturgical materials and clothes, items of metalwork and objects of cult of varied sorts. On January 25, 1943, the University of Alcalá was given a sculptural altarpiece in reduction, from the second half of the sixteenth century, devoted to The lifetime of Saint Agatha. This work may very well be recognized with the one at the moment discovered within the chapel of San Ildefonso. “However, in the latest 2016 edition of the study on the university’s assets as a world heritage site, it briefly talks about this altarpiece, attributed to Ambrosio de Bengoechea, but not a word about its origin,” says the professor.

Sources from this heart point out that the altarpiece was donated in 1943, “when the current Alcalá university had not yet been created.” “They gave it, in reality, to the National Institute of Public Administrations [que estaba ubicado en la universidad]”, constructing donated by the Society of Owners. The latter is an area non-public entity that acquired the college block by in style subscription in 1850 in order that it will not be demolished given its full abandonment. The college, created in 1499 by Cardinal Cisneros, was not refounded till 1977 on the buildings that the co-owners saved. “We knew something, but we only ensured the integrity of the whole. And everyone can see it. Alcalá lost a lot of heritage during the Civil War, perhaps the most,” point out the official college sources consulted.

File of the confiscation and transfer to the Complutense University of the library of Pedro Rico, Republican mayor of Madrid.
File of the confiscation and switch to the Complutense University of the library of Pedro Rico, Republican mayor of Madrid.IPCE, War Archive

Colorado maintains that the University of Valladolid acquired “special treatment,” since quite a few items got to it between 1941 and 1943: a sculpture of the Sorrowful Virginfrom the varsity of Pedro de Mena, who got here from the Magdalenas convent of Alcalá de Henares, a Cristo of ivory and an nameless carving from the primary half of the 18th century, recognized as Veronica or Virgin on the foot of the half-length cross, of polychrome wooden. But, as well as, he was given quite a few items of goldwork and liturgical clothes, in addition to two silver chalices (Gothic and Renaissance) and 95 kilos of silver, copper, bronze and different alloy cash. “Perhaps so much generosity can be understood, if we can understand these massive deliveries and diversions of works during the postwar period, by the fire that the university suffered on April 5, 1939, which devoured its premises, a catastrophe that has not yet been clarified and that “It was barely echoed in the press of the time due to the prevailing censorship.”

The University of Oviedo was awarded 19 paintings from between the 18th and 19th centuries and nine pieces of metalwork, porcelain and ceramics. Its vice-rector, Pilar García Cuetos, announces that “the vice-rector has organized a conference for next January 16 in which, under the title Heritage and Civil War. Artistic funds deposited in Asturias during the postwar period, It will be explained which works are in storage and what the situation is regarding their identification.” “Most of them are portraits, and of them, approximately half have been identified, because the receipt that accompanies them is not specific and for some pieces it is very non-specific and does not include photographic reference.” The establishment has been finishing up exhaustive identification work for years, provides Ana Quijada, head of Cultural Assets and Protocol on the University of Oviedo.

Altarpiece of Saint Águeda at the University of Alcalá.
Altarpiece of Saint Águeda on the University of Alcalá.Claudio Alvarez

The works, in keeping with college officers, arrived in Oviedo “after a request from the rector at that time, since the institution had lost its assets after the fire of 1934. Today they are stored in two locations: the core of the Historical Building and the Law School”.

The Complutense University was the great beneficiary. She received on December 13, 1945 a total of 34 paintings, 30 lithographs and one engraving. Colorado complains about the scarce, almost non-existent, collaboration of this center with it. “I have encountered an insurmountable barrier. “It is incomprehensible that a university denies information that should be transparent, especially for researchers.” The professor, who is precisely from the Complutense, remembers that this institution also received numerous libraries from exiled politicians in the post-war period, from “teachers who not only had a file opened and were expelled from their professorship, but whose books “They were confiscated after purging those considered dangerous.” This newspaper has tried with out success to acquire the college’s model.

Among the libraries referred to in Colorado, the one of Francisco Barnés, Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts during the Republic, stands out, with 4,000 volumes. Also that of Pedro Rico, Republican mayor of Madrid, with 2,000 copies, or that of Colonel José Sicardo, whom the files call “pink navy chief.” But there are additionally collections belonging to, amongst others, José Giral Pereira and Alejandro Lerroux, presidents of the Government, the historian Américo Castro and the poet Enrique Díez-Canedo. “There are tens of thousands of books. Once again one could try to understand this generosity, given that the University City of Madrid, especially the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, suffered very serious damage as it was a war front; but, also once again, Franco’s confiscations of the exiles’ property and its massive diversions cannot be justified.”

For its part, the University of Oviedo was left with the libraries of the socialists Adriano Flores, Luis Freijaner Malingre and Luis Martínez García, all of them described as “red” by the Regime; that of Valencia acquired the non-public assortment of books of the author Max Aub and that of Fernando Llorca Díez, son-in-law of Blasco Ibáñez and the professor Emili González Nadal, partially returned within the sixties. Part of the three,000-volume library of Mariano Ruiz Funes, a outstanding penal scholar who had been Minister of Agriculture and Justice, professor of Law and who went into exile in Mexico the place he would die in 1953, ended up in Murcia.

To full the image, the libraries of in style teams, staff’ athenaeums, republican political and union organizations had been additionally seized and purged, such because the library of the Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular that was handed over to the University of Barcelona, ​​in addition to part of these managed by the Servei de Biblioteques del Front, organized by the Generalitat of Catalonia in 1937, geared toward combatant troopers.

“For more than 80 years, universities, centers of knowledge, research and critical thinking, have not wanted or have mostly not been aware of the need to investigate these heritage assets, their origins, destination and possible seized owners. and account for the works and libraries that may remain in their hands. In this sense, they should take the example of the Prado Museum, which has carried out an investigation into the confiscated works. As public and knowledge institutions, they have to settle a debt owed to all those who during the Civil War fought to save heritage in danger of destruction, part of which they can continue to have in their offices today,” provides Colorado Castellary.

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