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Mussolini at Stresa, Italy
Gelatin silver print, modern
9 3/16 x 7 3/4 ins
Courtesy of the Lucien Aigner Estate
Published 1937 in Lilliput (London) and 1939 on cover of Newsweek (New York).
"The photograph of Mussolini [which] made the cover of Newsweek and which was called by a reviewer in Popular Photography as 'one of the most unforgettable candid shots of all time'...was the climax to a three-day frustrating pictorial adventure while covering the 1935 Stresa conference.
This meeting was a supreme effort of the democracies to block the progress of Hitler. Mussolini at that time was still 'on the fence' between choosing his sides in the European power struggle between Hitler and the French and the British and their allies. Mussolini's war against Ethiopia was in progress and he needed acquiescence of the democracies. On the other hand, Western countries threatened by Hitler were trying to wean the Italian dictator away from a potential Rome-Berlin axis, which Mussolini himself dreaded intensely. He was only too conscious of the danger of his country becoming a neighbor to Hitler's upcoming competing dictatorship.
Photography was banned on the arrival of the British and the French statesmen at the railroad station and during the first two days of the conference Mussolini remained closeted in his island castle, Isola Bella, and there were no opportunities to photograph him with his guests for a photographic record of the conference. At the railroad station after the guests were gone, Mussolini lingered for a short while to relax and discuss matters with his intimates. The nose twitching picture was taken then."
Lucien Aigner, from his unpublished memoirs