This satirical watercolor by the Italian artist Raffaello Jonni is part of a series of 79 original drawings by Jonni preserved at the Alessandrina Library in Rome. It portrays a hand trying to grab a safe labeled “Trieste” that is carried by Franz Joseph I (1830–1916), the aged emperor of Austria-Hungary. The hand represents a powerful Italy that is seeking to acquire Trieste, historically part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, during World War I, its main point of access to the sea. The Italian irredentist movement had been campaigning for the city's annexation since at least the last two decades of the 19th century. The breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the war rendered moot its dispute with Italy over control of the city, but it led to tensions with the newly-established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was formed in part out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and pressed its territorial claims. At the end of the war, in November 1918, the Royal Italian Army entered Trieste to the applause of the part of the population that favored the Italian cause. The status of Trieste as an Italian city was affirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo. Annexation poisoned relations between the Italian and the Slovene populations, which at times boiled over into armed combat.
Place: Europe; Austria; Europe; Hungary; Europe; Italy; Friuli-Venezia Giulia; Trieste; Europe; Slovenia
Institution: Alessandrina Library
Physical description: 1 drawing : watercolor ; 57 X 50 centimeters