Rome: NP, 1927. Original document. Softcover. Folio (13 x 9"). Original b/w photographic portrait of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The photograph is tipped onto thick cardstock, which is inscribed to the then French Minister of Justice Louis Barthou: "A S. S. Louis Barthou, con cordiale deferente simpatia. Roma maggio 1927 - V" Mussolini (signed) (To his Excellency Louis Barthou, with friendly and respectful sympathy, Rome, May 1927 - Vth year of the fascist era). The actual photograph is an early official portrait of Benito Mussolini, who, following the March on Rome in October 1922, became Italy's youngest Prime Minister. The portrait measures 8 1/2 x 6 1/4" and depicts Mussolini dressed in civilian clothes with his head down, thus affecting an air of authoritarian severity.
There is a cruel irony behind this exceptional document. Indeed, a few years later (February 9, 1934), Louis Barthou became the French Secretary of State, and as such, was assigned to welcome King Alexander I of Yugoslavia during his state visit to Marseille on October 9 of the same year. Within minutes of the King's arrival, both His Majesty and Barthou were assassinated by Velicko Kerin, a Bulgarian revolutionary with a handgun. One of the bullets struck Barthou in the arm, passing though and fatally severing an artery. He died of excessive blood loss less than an hour later. The assassination was planned in Rome by Ante Pavelić, head of the Croatian Ustaše, a fascist movement that Mussolini had funded for years. Cardstock slightly age-toned, and partly creased at upper and lower right corners. Inscription in Italian. Cardstock in overall good, photograph in fine condition. vg. Item #39394