Capa’s Loyalist Died

On of Robert Capa’s most famous photographs, variously titled but often referred to as The Dying Soldier or Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, has been the subject of controversy. Though purporting to show the death of a loyalist during the Spanish Civil War in the heat of battle, it has sometimes been said that Capa was photographing nothing more than a training exercise.

A London exhibition is attempting to settle the case by showing every photograph Capa shot that day. The evidence seems to point to the death of a loyalist. The circumstances of his death, however, are slightly less clear.

An article from The Independent (UK) quotes Capa biographer Richard Whelan:

“There have been various theories about whether the soldier was actually shot in battle. Looking at the photos it is clear that it is not the heat of battle. It is likely the soldiers were carrying out an exercise either for Capa or themselves. The images are ordered according to the numbers on the back of the negatives, so it’s the best sequence we can put together and from that we can deduce the story.”

There is no doubt the soldier was shot, however. Mr Whelan believed Garcia died almost instantly from a bullet to the heart.

The Independent article is here. Link from C-Monster here. The exhibition, “This is War! Robert Capa at Work” is showing at the Barbican in London October 17-January 25.

~ by David Cupp on September 26, 2008.

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