D'Annunzio, Gabriele. (1863–1938)

Early Cabinet Photograph

Early Henri Le Lieure cabinet card photograph of the profligate Italian poet, playwright and journalist, ca. 1880s.  A few stray marks, lower right edge broken, markings on verso, overall very good.  4 x 6.4 inches.

D'Annunzio occupied a prominent place in Italian literature for many of his younger years, lauded for his decadent and original writings.  He later emerged as a significant political figure, particularly after his military service during the First World War when public regard cemented him as a national war hero.  Within a greater historical context, D'Annunzio's poetry and philosophical beliefs are certainly held in a critical light; while he never declared himself a fascist, he has been described by many as the precursor of Italian fascism.  His aesthetics served as the foundation for the ideals and techniques that presented during Mussolini-era Italian fascism.   

"D’Annunzio’s political playbook outlived him. Although he later vocally opposed both Adolf Hitler and his great admirer Benito Mussolini, he had nevertheless laid the aesthetic groundwork for them to follow. The black uniform of the “arditi” was adopted by Mussolini’s Blackshirts (so too their experiments with castor oil). But it was d’Annunzio’s canny ability to transform politics into an aesthetic — even religious — experience that proved most prescient. His narratives of bygone eras of glory, of virility expressed through violence, whipped an alienated and fractious populace into frenzy. His blithe disregard for truth allowed him to create — unfettered — his own reality. A morally repellent but brilliant man, he recognized that his countrymen’s desire for a modern myth outstripped their more material needs. And he gave them one." (The New York Times, 2019)