Picasso’s Guernica

2 Nov, 2017 700 Arts

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the context and impact of Pablo Picasso’s iconic work, created soon after the bombing on 26th April 1937 that obliterated much of the Basque town of Guernica, and its people. The attack was carried out by warplanes of the German Condor Legion, joined by the Italian air force, on behalf of Franco’s Nationalists. At first the Nationalists denied responsibility, blaming their opponents for creating the destruction themselves for propaganda purposes, but the accounts of journalists such as George Steer, and the prominence of Picasso’s work, kept the events of that day under close scrutiny. Picasso’s painting has gone on to become a symbol warning against the devastation of war.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Mary Vincent 2 episodes
    Professor of Modern European History at the University of Sheffield
  • Gijs van Hensbergen No other episodes
    Historian of Spanish Art and Fellow of the LSE Canada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies
  • Dacia Viejo Rose No other episodes
    Lecturer in Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge Fellow of Selwyn College

Reading list

  • Picasso's Guernica: History, Transformations, Meanings
    Hershel B. Chipp (University of California Press, 1992) Google Books →
  • Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon
    Gijs van Hensbergen (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005) Google Books →
  • Life with Picasso
    Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake (Virago, 1990) Google Books →
  • The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction
    Helen Graham (Oxford University Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • Guernica and Total War
    Ian Patterson (Profile Books, 2007) Google Books →
  • Picasso: His Life and Work
    Roland Penrose (University of California Press, 1992) Google Books →
  • We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War
    Paul Preston (Constable, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Destruction of Guernica
    Paul Preston (Harper Collins, 2010) Google Books →
  • Telegram from Guernica: The Extraordinary Life of George Steer, War Correspondent
    Nicholas Rankin (Faber and Faber, 2013) Google Books →
  • War and Cultural Heritage: Biographies of Place
    Marie Louise S. Sorensen and Dacia Viejo-Rose (eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • Guernica! Guernica!: A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda and History
    Herbert Southworth (University of California Press, 1992) Google Books →
  • The Tree of Gernika: A Field Study of Modern War
    George Steer (Faber and Faber, 2011) Google Books →
  • Guernica: The Crucible of World War II
    Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts (Scarborough House, 1991) Google Books →
  • Reconstructing Spain: Cultural Heritage and Memory after Civil War
    Dacia Viejo-Rose (SAP/Canada Blanch, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b09bxkdm

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09bxkdm

Auto-category: 700.92 (Arts and recreation > Fine arts and decorative arts > Artists, architects, and related occupations > Artists)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 1937 Pablo Picasso revealed his painting Guernica at the Paris International's exhibition in the Pavilion of Republic in Spain.