Felix H. Man (British, born Germany, 1893–1985)
Gelatin silver print
9 3/16 x 7 in. (23.4 x 17.8 cm)
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.193)
When Mussolini agreed to be trailed for a day by pioneering photojournalist Felix H. Man, the photographer was genuinely surprised. But as a former journalist, Mussolini understood the power of the media in modern political life, and he acknowledged existing official images of himself for what they were: stiffly posed, cold portraits that detracted from his desired persona as a "man of the people." The ideal candidate for altering this image, Man had established his reputation photographing candid moments in the lives of important and powerful people for the burgeoning German picture press.
For the essay from which this photograph is taken"A Day in the Life of Mussolini"Man amassed "slice-of-life" images like this one, which humanized Il Duce by presenting him in the course of his daily routine, as though unaware of the camera, in surroundings to which very few had access. The essay was published in picture magazines around the world and its play-by-play narrative format established a new and widely popular paradigm for photo-essays.