Arturo Martini, Vittoria (Monumento ai caduti postelegrafonici di Napoli 1935)
Arturo Martini worked on a first sample of the sculpture Vittoria already in 1932; two years later and after some minor changes, the sculptor showed the artwork to Mussolini, who appreciated it both for its subject and for its appearances. Still in 1934, Martini worked on a plaster sample of it and, shortly after, he oversaw the process leading towards the final, bronze version. The massive statue (more than 4 metres high) was located on a black granite pedestal inside the Palazzo delle Poste in Naples – where it is still nowadays – as a commemorative monument. The pedestal shows an inscription followed by a list of names: it is a dedication to all the fallen postal and telecommunications workers who deceased in war.
The Sacralisation of the New Man’s Total Politics through the Arts
Shaping the New Man’s Reality by Fashioning National Myths
Monumentalism: Visualising Subjectivity and Objectivity
As already mentioned in the analysis of Thayaht’s Vittoria dell’aria, the theme of the Victory is definitely relevant in the art of the Ventennio, due to its powerful political implications.
Arturo Martini, throughout his career and especially during the Thirties, is one of the artists dealing with it on several occasions. In 1932, for the 10th anniversary’s celebrations of the Marcia su Roma, the artist sculpts two different versions of the Victory: the first one, Vittoria fascista, is a winged woman triumphantly walking with a fascio littorio topped by the imperial eagle in her hand; the second one, Vittoria con bandiere, is a half-naked woman who walks waving two flags. Both of them were exhibited at the artistic competition occurred during the Biennale di Venezia of the same year. Contrasting with these traditional examples, Vittoria della Trasvolata (1934) is a modern version of the subject: it represents a flying woman controlling (and at the same time guided by) a squadron of Italian planes. It was exhibited at the Milanese Palazzo dell’Arte during the Esposizione aeronautica italiana of the same year.
Shortly after, the artist works on another Vittoria, which is also known as Monumento ai caduti postelegrafonici di Napoli. Since Mussolini rejects the first model, the artist decides to modify his previous Vittoria con bandiere: finally approved, the project is firstly casted in clay in 1934 and then, in 1935, melted in bronze.The result, overall, is a minor tone version of its original model: even if the half-naked woman has an unquestionable, massive presence, the absence of movement and passion is evident. Martini himself is actually unsatisfied both of the statue and its location – along a wall of the Palazzo delle Poste in Naples.
Maybe influenced by a widespread antifascism, after WWII the sculptor says: 'I took a model I worked on several years ago […] in 20 days I was able to present a "vittorietta" to him [Mussolini], and in 10 days more it was done. The Vittoria held two flags that seemed two sacks and the Neapolitans properly called it "la befana"' (Nappi 2011, 228) . Again: 'As a model it could be satisfactory, but in its final version it was a mess' (De Micheli 2000, 64) .Far from being one of the best Martini’s artistic achievements, this Vittoria well represents the fascist cultural-programme that intends to show an image, a status to imply political and social meanings.
From one side it is a conflicting celebration of the Italian military strength – the subject is a woman portrayed as a victory – but, at the same time, it is a collective monument, recalling all the postal and telecommunications workers courageously deceased in the name of Italy. In other words, it contains the bright side of the celebration and the dark side of a respectful commemoration. In this way, it is also easier to address the monument to a wider public and to portray the war as something valuable not just for ourselves but especially for the entire nation. The idea of ‘total art’, capable to captivate a public for its beauty and to inspire it with a political message, is reshaped in a monument that all the people can see in their ordinary life.
De Micheli, Mario. 2000. L’arte sotto le dittature. Milan: Feltrinelli.
Ferrari, Gian Claudia, Pontiggia, Elena and Livia Velani (eds). 2006. Arturo Martini. Milan: Skira.
Nappi, Maria Rosaria (ed.). 2011. La Campania e la Grande guerra. I monumenti ai caduti di Napoli e provincia. Rome: Gangemi Editore.
 'Ho preso un bozzetto che avevo fatto molti anni prima […] in venti giorni gli ho presentato una vittorietta, e in altri dieci l’ho fatta. La Vittoria portava due bandiere che parevano due sacchetti e i napoletani con ragione la chiamarono la befana'.
 'Come bozzetto era passabile, ma trattato in grande, una porcheria'.