A possibly unique silver equestrian statuette of Benito Mussolini
(29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945)
Max height 20” – Length head to tail 18” – Marble base 14” x 61/2”
Italian Circa 1935
Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party, ruling the country from 1922 to his ousting in 1943, and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of fascism.
Originally a member of the Italian Socialist Party and editor of Avanti from 1912 to 1914, Mussolini fought in World War I as an ardent nationalist. Following the March on Rome in October 1922 he became the 27th Prime Minister of Italy and began using the title Il Duce by 1925, about which time he had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means, aspiring to create a totalitarian state.
After 1936, his official title was SuaEccellenza Benito Mussolini, Capo del Governo, Duce del Fascismo e Fondatoredell’Impero “His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire”.
Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire along with King Victor Emmanuel III, which gave him and the King joint supreme control over the military of Italy.
Mussolini remained in power until he was replaced in 1943; for a short period after this until his death, he was the leader of the Italian Social Republic.
Mussolini was among the founders of Italian Fascism, which included elements of nationalism, corporatism, national syndicalism, expansionism, social progress, and anti-socialism in combination with censorship of subversives and state propaganda.
In the years following his creation of the Fascist ideology, Mussolini influenced, or achieved admiration from, a wide variety of political figures.
On 10 June 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II, ultimately siding with Germany. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France and the United Kingdom. Therefore, he waited until the former was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender because of the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940, on the assumption that – following France’s collapse – the war would be short-lived.
Mussolini believed that after the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain from this country some territorial concessions and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.
On 24 July 1943, soon after the start of the Allied invasion of Italy, Mussolini was defeated in the vote at the Grand Council of Fascism, and the day after the King had him arrested.
On 12 September 1943, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by Germanspecial forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces.
In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his permanent demise.
J.B. Hawkins Antiques will be exhibiting Benito at the Decorative Arts Fair at the National Trust House Runnymede Friday 11th October-Sunday 13th October.