Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Western art

View More:


Dream and lie of Franco – Plate II, from Sueño y Mentira de Franco



Pablo Picasso

Spain, France

25 Oct 1881 - 08 Apr 1973


'Dream and lie of Franco' is a set of two prints (plate I and plate II), numbered impressions from the edition of 150 (26/150), printed by Lacourière and published by the artist in Paris, without the text and the portfolio. There were also thirty signed artist’s proofs numbered in Roman numerals and a stamp-signed edition of 850 on Montval.
Picasso began this pair of prints in January 1937. Each is subdivided into three rows of three scenes that together form a series of 18 cartoon-like vignettes printed from two plates. Since Picasso worked on the images from left to right, the etched versions (printed in reverse) read from right to left. The result is not a narrative as such, but a series of loosely connected images. In the tradition of chivalric literature (e.g. Cervantes), the nine scenes of the first plate show the heroic feats and the piety of Franco as a medieval 'caballero' (knight)– except he is variously and ridiculously depicted as a tight-rope walker with an oversized penis; as a traditional Spanish 'Maja'; as a figure of piety before the altar of money, or a leg-less knight riding a pig.
While the images of the first plate are subversive and humorous, the scenes of the second plate focus more strongly on the brutality of Franco’s regime. The general is depicted as a monstrous grinning figure, devouring the innards of his own horse that he has just slaughtered, while other scenes show the results of battle. Picasso also expressed the despair of the Spanish women in particular. It is noteworthy that the print contains the iconic image of an anguished and despairing female head –Picasso’s first rendition of the 'Weeping woman' which was developed shortly after in several paintings. Finally, Picasso used other imagery from this print in his ground-breaking mural 'Guernica' completed the same year. The last four scenes were added on 7 June 1937, six weeks after the Basque town of Guernica was levelled by bombs.


Alternative title

Sueño y Mentira de Franco



Media category


Materials used

etching and aquatint on Chine collé


26/150 [there were also 30 signed artist's proofs numbered in Roman numerals and a stamp-signed edition of 850 on Montval]


31.5 x 42.2 cm platemark; 38.2 x 57.5 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "Picasso". Dated top c., [etched in plate] "8 janvier 1937 [reversed]". Dated l.r., [etched in plate] "9 janvier 1937 - 7 juin 37 [reversed]".


Purchased with funds provided by Hamish Parker, Guy & Marian Paynter and Ashley Dawson-Damer AM 2017


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Pablo Picasso

Works in the collection



Private Collection, pre 2000, Paris/France, Galerie Arenthon, Paris

pre 19 Mar 2014, 'Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Print's, Christie’s London, 19 Mar 2014, lot 285.

Mar 2014-Jun 2016, 'Viva España! Prints by Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Chillida & Tàpies', Christie’s online sale, 21–30 June 2016, lot 11

Frederick Mulder, Old Master & Modern Prints, Jun 2016, London/England, Bought at Christie's online sale, 21-30 June 2016, lot 11, by Frederick Mulder.

Referenced in 2 publications


Bernhard Geiser and Brigitte Baer, Picasso peintre-graveur. Tome III. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre gravé et des monotypes 1935–1945, Bern, 1986, pp 108–10, no 616.

Anne Gérard-Austin, Look, 'New acquisition – Picasso. Dream and lie of Franco (Sueño y Mentira de Franco) 1937', Sydney, Jul 2018-Aug 2018, pp 25–26, col illus p 26.