La Retirada and the exodus of Spanish artistic heritage

The Retirada is a time to reflect on the errors of the past and, hopefully, learn important lessons to prevent such atrocities from reoccurring.

Well-documented are the vast waves of refugees, flowing over the border, out of Franco-ruled Spain and into the P-O.

What is less known about the exodus, is that many important pieces of art also fled the tyrannical dictator.

Cultural artifacts have long been targeted by armies as a demonstration of their superiority, dominance and power. Collectors and curators were therefore anxious to protect their cultural heritage.

Joël Mattey, president of the association, Amis du Musée d’art Moderne de Céret, confirms that an agreement was established in Figuerès, allowing Spanish artwork to pass over the border.

Credit: DR, L'Indépendent

Tens of millions of cultural artefacts were removed from palaces, museums, churches, libraries and private collections across Spain.

These priceless works were placed in lorries which then joined the snaking lines of Spanish refugees, all making the perilous route towards safety.

Many paintings, sculptures, books and tapestries passed via the Château d’Aubiry in Céret before continuing their journey, en route for Geneva.

This February, take a moment to reflect on Europe’s recent history and, in particular, the role played by our region.

Leave a Comment