Wartime Poster by Rafael de Penagos

Gender roles

Gender and history

Gender stereotypes: public / domestic

Housed at the Museu d’Història de València, this propaganda poster was commissioned by the Spanish Army Jefatura de Sanidad (Department of Health). The artist was the Carlist illustrator Rafael de Penagos (1889-1954). The scene depicted on the poster immediately attracts the attention of the viewer: a nurse stands at the foot of the bed of a dying man, giving her own blood. In the background we see a woman breastfeeding her infant son. The text is clear and direct: “You, who gave life to the child… save the man from death,” equating the woman’s sacrifice to the Republic to that of the man’s in battle. The soldier spills his blood on the battlefield, while the nurse, in the rearguard, gives of her own life essence to save the soldier. Both are fighting for the same cause but through different actions.