Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, Spain, 1936
11 x 14 inches (28 x 35.5 cm)
Robert Capa shared a darkroom with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Chim (David Seymour) in Paris in 1933. He worked regularly as a photojournalist, and made several trips to Spain to document the civil war. His photographs from this conflict, including his most famous image, Death of a Loyalist Soldier (1936), were heralded for their stunning impact; Picture Post termed him ‘the greatest war photographer in the world.’ When World War II began, he moved to America and worked for LIFE, Time, and other publications. From 1941-1946 he was a war correspondent for LIFE and Collier’s, travelling with the US Army and documenting Allied victories in North Africa, the Allied landing at Normandy and the Allied victories of Leipzig, Nuremberg, and Berlin. After the war, Capa joined Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger in founding Magnum. He travelled to Hanoi in 1954 to photograph the French war in Indochina for LIFE; shortly after his arrival, he was killed trafically after stepping on a land mine.
Possibly the most famous of war photographs, ‘The Falling Soldier’ was taken at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War and shows the moment of a bullet’s impact on a loyalist soldier. This photograph has become an emblem of the medium’s unrivalled capacity to depict sudden death. It is also prototypical of the style of photojournalism that came to define the work of Capa and his colleagues at Magnum Photos in the late 1940s.