Spain “illustrates” its legacy in the United States

This content was published on December 24, 2021 – 1:11 PM

Patricia de Arce

Washington, Dec 24 (EFE) .- Spain has been very present in the United States since the birth of this nation and even before, but its legacy has been ignored on many occasions. Now, a book and an exhibition in Washington highlight and illustrate the historical, scientific and cultural footprint of the Spanish in this country.

From Bernardo de Gálvez, who helped defeat the English in the war of independence, to Conchita Montenegro, the first Spanish woman to triumph in Hollywood, to Ignacio Ponseti, an eminence of orthopedics. All of them appear in “Illustrating Spain in the US” (Illustrating Spain in the United States).

An original project that combines the essays of experts with the art of Spanish illustrators to tell, in seven chapters, how Spain was and continues to be present in the United States.

The idea came from the head of the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain and took shape with the writer and professor at the University of Iowa Ana Merino, as curator of this exhibition and of the book published by the Fantagraphics publishing house that is already sold in the United States. .

In the former residence of the ambassador and current cultural office of the Embassy in Washington, the comics that cover the essays and that have been published in the book are exposed.

The director of the Cultural Office and promoter of this initiative, Miguel Albero, goes through the exhibition of the cartoons with Efe while explaining its reason for being: to help the internationalization of artists and discover a very rich and unknown legacy that is not limited to moments of the most remote past.


The review begins, however, far back, in the Spanish missions in the country, which left a “complex” legacy as acknowledged in the essay by Professor J. Michel Francis when speaking of these places that were at once the scenes of alliances and cultural exchanges but also violent episodes.

A large map by Sergio García Sánchez illustrates the missions and the so-called “Camino Real” that connected them.

Opposite is the comic dedicated to the tens of thousands of Spanish immigrants who settled in this country. In the first panel you can read “Asturias, dear homerland” (Asturias, beloved homeland) the title of the comic that illustrates the life of this group.

“Neither friars nor conquerors” is the essay by New York University professor José Fernández that accompanies this chapter and recalls some of the Spaniards who sought a better life in the United States, worked and started businesses in the country.

Rayco Pulido illustrates the journey of the Spanish soldier Bernardo de Gálvez, who according to Miguel Albero was “as important as Lafayette” although he is not remembered in the same way as the French, and who also helped the victory of the colonies over the English . The city of Galveston (Texas) is named for him.


Many decades before Penelope Cruz or Javier Bárdem conquered the film mecca, Conchita Montenegro, the first Spanish woman to succeed in Hollywood, and other names such as María Alba and Antonio Moreno or the writer Enrique Jardiel Poncela were there.

They all appear in the comic “Chaplin’s House” by Carla Berrocal, who imagines the writer and director Edgar Neville recounting his life in the city of stars, where Charles Chaplin’s house was the refuge of many Spaniards.


Ramón Verea, the inventor of the first mechanical calculator; Emilio Herrera Linares, who designed the first space suit for missions in the stratosphere or the Nobel Prize winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal appear in the chapter and the cartoons about the enormous contribution of the Spanish scientists who worked in the United States.

And of course, art. The curiosity and concerns of the American elites, who from the mid-18th century traveled to Europe and acquired numerous works of art, made this country, as Miguel Albero emphasizes, the one that houses -after Spain, of course- more works of Spanish art.

Goya’s portrait of the child Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, which hangs on the walls of the Metropolitan in New York, inspires Max’s cartoon, in which characters in the painting (a magpie and three cats) make their particular journey through the presence of the Spanish art in the United States.

All without forgetting Hispanism and the huge presence of Spanish intellectuals in the United States for decades, especially those who arrived after being forced into exile due to the civil war and Franco’s victory.

The poem “Los exiliados” by Concha Zardoya is revealed in a vignette by Anapurna to honor these hundreds of intellectuals whose legacy still persists in numerous organizations, Hispanic societies and American universities.

The first of the illustrations that was made for this project and that now occupies the cover of the book is not lacking in the exhibition. It is from Sonia Pulido, national award for Illustration in 2020.

Pulido unites the American and Spanish flags and places characters from different eras drawn on their backs and who seem to walk. They are, says Miguel Albero, a representation of the Spaniards who helped build the United States.

pamp / lb / amg

© EFE 2021. The redistribution and redistribution of all or part of the contents of EFE’s services is expressly prohibited, without the prior and express consent of the EFE SA Agency.

We would like to thank the author of this short article for this awesome material

Spain “illustrates” its legacy in the United States