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Published in the autumn of 1922 soon after Mussolini swept to power, this enthusiastic proclamation of support for the Italian Fascist cause was signed by Mario Sironi (1885-1961) and a number of other idealogically-minded Futurist artists.

During the 1920s and ’30s Sironi, who had been included in the important Sette Pittore del Novecento (Seven Painters of the Twentieth Century) exhibition in Milan in March 1922, proved to be a key figure in the Novecento movement development of a neoclassical style in tune with the nationalist ideals of the fasci.

The results, as can be seen from this austere c.1924/25 oil Il povero pescatore, right, which came up for sale in Galerie Koller’s (18/16/12% buyer’s premium) December 4 sale of Modern Art in Zurich, were considerably less kitschy than the German equivalent. Self-consciously influenced by native Italian Etruscan and Romanesque art, this untouched 3ft 4in by 2ft 6in (1.02m x 76cm) canvas had been exhibited at the 1925 Rome Biennial and had been entered from a Swiss private
collection after never being offered at auction before.

There were plenty of old labels on the back (including one signed by Sironi) and the verso of the canvas also bore a customs stamp dating from 1930.

The fact that this important 20th century Italian painting had been entered by a Swiss vendor should have opened the field to any nationality of buyer but on the day it was native Italian collectors who tendered most of the bidding on no fewer than eight telephones at this Zurich saleroom. It was eventually knocked down to an Italian collector for SFr720,000 (£320,000), which was a new record for the artist. The
pre-sale estimate had been SFr50,000-60,000.
Exchange rate: £1 = SFr2.25