Sueno y mentira de Franco, the 'dream and lie of Franco', was created in 1937 in protest of Franco's coup d'etat a year earlier. Rather than simply condemn the unlawfulness of this regime, Picasso chose to at once ridicule the general and expose the suffering of the people in a series of 18 cartoon-line scenes printed from two plates. The comic-strip character of the prints derived from Picasso's original idea, which was to produce a series of postcards or leaflets, to be widely disseminated amongst the Spanish people. The result is not a narrative as such, but a series of loosely connected images.
In the tradition of chivalric literature, the nine scenes of the first plate show the heroic feats and the piety of Franco as a medieval caballero - except he is shown as a tight-rope walker in the shape of giant penis, as praying at an altar of money, as being dragged-up as a Spanish Maja or riding a pig. While these are subversive and wildly funny, the scenes of the second plate are more devoted to the brutality of his regime and the despair of the people, in particular the women. It is here that we see the figure of the 'Crying Woman' (B. 1333; Ba. 623) taking shape for the first time, Picasso also developed some of the imagery, on a monumental scale in his mural Guernica, painted for the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. The portfolio of two prints, together with a surrealist poem, was also sold there, in support of the Republican cause.