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Works from Bruno Mantura collection

Tuesday 23 March 2021, 03:00 PM • Rome


Publio Morbiducci

(Roma 1889 - 1963)

Italian East African soldier, 1939


€ 1.500 - 2.500


€ 3.072

The price includes buyer's premium


bronze sculpture on black marble base
height 40.5 cm (base excluded)

signed on the back of the base: P. MORBIDUCCI

On the marble base: traces of an ancient exhibition tag with reference number (128?); on the right, metallic scroll Ventrella / Rome / Corso Umberto 168.

Together in the lot, bronze plaque, 8.2 x 6 cm.

Trained between the Institute of Fine Arts, the Industrial Art Museum and the School of the Medal, Publio Morbiducci immediately directs his production in the fields of graphics, applied arts and sculpture. If the formal synthesis of the first production shows evident secessionist influences, during the 1920s and 1930s the language will move towards a more compact and synthetic plasticism in which classicism and déco suggestions coexist with a stamp that will gradually become more and more grandiloquent, also in relation to the numerous public commissions - monuments, installations, but also medals and graphic works - in which the artist was involved. This work, which portrays a soldier from Italian East Africa, probably also had to respond to celebratory purposes, as can be seen from a bronze plaque (offered in this lot) preserved in the Mantura collection and depicting the same subject in high relief with the inscription MVSN OF THE A.O.I. 1FEBRUARY XVII. It is therefore possible that it is a sketch for a larger bronze made to celebrate the sixteenth anniversary in 1939 of the Voluntary Militia for National Security (M.V.S.N.). Born from the merger between the Action Squads of the National Fascist Party (Black Shirts) and the Always Ready for the Fatherland and for the King militia of the Italian Nationalist Association (Blue Shirts), the MVSN it had been established on February 1, 1923 as a militia of the National Fascist Party and would later qualify as one of the main armed forces of the state. Among the various departments in which it was structured there was also that of the Colonial Militia, with garrisons in Libya, in the Dodecanese and in East Africa, the latter created after the conquest of Ethiopia (1936).

The small bronze shows the soldier in the traditional uniform, with the shoulder bag, the Boer hat, the rifle behind shoulders. The jacket is however absent, the shirt is open and the sleeves are rolled up to give more emphasis to muscular vigor; the figure is in fact caught in the action, the right hand clenched in a fist while the left brandishes the dagger in the air.

Compared to the more rigid synthesis of many monumental works, this Soldier of East Africa , in its slender forms, in the synthetic modeling and in the dynamic impetus, presents those typical characteristics of elegant formal stylization that distinguish its smaller plastic. Since there is no mention of this celebratory commission both in the bibliography on the artist and in the Morbiducci archive, it is possible that the final work was never made.

Sabrina Spinazzè