This head of a peasant woman with her face frozen in terror (a fragment of a planned larger sculpture, never realized) was cast in bronze from a plaster left in González's studio at the time of his death in 1942. The artist made several paintings and sculptures of this subject beginning in 1936, in response to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, which claimed the lives of thousands of civilians before its conclusion in 1939. (Montserrat is a mountain range in the Catalonia region of Spain, where González was born; it is also a popular first name for women of the region.) This representational work marked a radical departure from the abstract, Cubist-inspired sculptures for which González was best known at the time. In 1937, a full figure sculpture of the same subject stood at the entrance to the Spanish Pavilion at the International Exhibition of Art and Technology in Modern Art in Paris, where Pablo Picasso first presented his monumental anti-war painting Guernica—like this work, a response to Fascist violence in Spain.
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