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Francesco Sapori Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DMW
Date: 9 Nov 1979

Biographical History

Francesco Sapori (1890-1964) was an Italian novelist, poet, journalist, art critic, exhibition organizer, academic professor, and active National Fascist party member during and after the Ventennio, the twenty-year period of Italian fascism overseen by Giovanni Gentile and Benito Mussolini.

While studying law at the University in Catania in 1910, Sapori wrote an article in the magazine Vita d’Arte discussing the engraver Guido Colucci. Sapori is credited with rediscovering Colucci to the art community. During World War I he was a 2nd lieutenant in the infantry and returned with a medal; he was wounded in his left leg, which resulted in a limp he carried the rest of his life. His time in the Great War inspired him to write his 1917 novel La trincea. In 1930 he and Garrado Govoni edited La Bordata, a monthly poetry and art magazine which featured articles by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. He held two academic positions, as professor of History of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Rome and History of Art in the Academies of Fine Arts. While it is unclear when he was appointed, he possibly held these positions after the Ventennio.

Sapori was unreservedly active in the National Fascist Party and fascist art during the Ventennio. In 1927 he was appointed Commissario del Sindacato fascista Romano degli autori e scrittori [Commissioner of the Roman Fascist Syndicate of Authors and Writers], a position which allowed Sapori to gather and spread fascist art and fascist ideas. As well as writing and editing many pro-fascist books, such as L’arte e il duce (1932), Il fascismo e l’arte (1934), Scrittori di Roma (1938), and Il Duce nel mondo (1938), Sapori also curated several exhibitions dedicated to fascism and fascist art: Il Libro Coloniale del Tempo Fascista (1936) and Prima Mostra degli Artisti Italiani in Armi (1942). He entertained Mussolini, other National Fascist Party members, and higher-ranking Nazi Party members at two photographed fascist art exhibitions.

While Sapori was a prolific art critic and art historian during the Ventennio, after World War II he turned towards academia to teach art history and work as a curator, editor of the art historical magazine Mediterraneo, and as an art critic and art historian.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Francesco Sapori Papers consists of drafts and manuscripts, memorabilia, printed material, and scrapbooks, with the scrapbooks forming the bulk of the collection.

Drafts and manuscripts consists of typed, handwritten, and printed drafts of articles, poetry, and novels by Sapori. Most are on art history.

Memorabilia contains autograph books, biographical material, lists of Sapori's writings, plans for exhibits on Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Giacomo Balla, posters, and photo albums. The four photo albums span Sapori's career as a member of the fascist party to his transition into life after Mussolini. Sapori was in charge of coordinating two exhibitions as a party member: Il Libro Coloniale del Tempo Fascista [ The Colonial Book of the Fascist Time] and Prima Mostra degli Artisti Italiani in Armi [ First Exhibition of Italian Arts in Arms]. Il Libro Coloniale glorified the spread of fascism in Italy and in the Italian colonies in Africa, while Prima Mostra degli Artisti Italiani in Armi exhibited artworks created by Italian artists serving in the Italian army depicting life as a serviceman and Italian life during the Ventennio. Prima Mostra was shown in Rome and Berlin; it was attended by Mussolini in Rome and Nazi party members in Berlin. The other two photo albums focus on an exhibition of books in 1953 and the opening of the Mediterraneo magazine's headquarters.

Printed material consists of clippings of Sapori's articles in different magazines, and three issues of Italian newspapers. These newspapers do not appear to have any connection with Sapori other than being addressed to him or his wife, Brunilde.

Scrapbooks consists of bound volumes that were created and titled by Sapori. Some contain journal and magazine publications, like Africa Italiana and La Bordata, others are true scrapbooks with a theme, like "Alcuni inviti a conferenze di F. Sapori" [Some invitations to conferences by F. Sapori] and "Sindacato autori e scrittori del Lazio" [Authors and writers union of Lazio]. Others, on general topics, consist of articoli [articles], estratti [extracts], stampa [press], and miscellanea [miscellaneous].

Arrangement of the Collection

Material is arranged alphabetically then chronologically. The scrapbooks are arranged alphabetically by type according to Sapori's titles, e.g. Africa Italiana, "Alcuni inviti a conferenze di F. Sapori," etc.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Mussolini, Benito, 1883-1945.
Sapori, Francesco, 1890-1964.

Corporate Bodies

Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei.
Partito nazionale fascista (Italy)

Associated Titles

Giornale di Sicilia (Palermo, Italy)
Mediterraneo (Association : Padua, Italy)
Rassegna nazionale.


Art historians -- Italy.
Art, Italian.
Fascism -- Germany.
Fascism -- Italy.
Fascism -- Periodicals.
Fascism and art -- Exhibitions.
Fascism and art -- Italy.
Fascism and literature -- Exhibitions.
Fascism and literature -- Italy.
Fascism in art -- Exhibitions.
Fascist propaganda -- Italy.
Fascists -- Italy.
Italian fiction.
Patriotic literature, Italian.
War stories, Italian.


Italian East Africa.
Italy -- Intllectual life.
Italy -- Rome.

Genres and Forms

Autograph albums.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drafts (documents)
Extracts (partial documents)
Journals (periodicals)
Magazines (periodicals)
Manuscripts (documents)
Political posters.


Art critics.
Art historians.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Francesco Sapori Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Francesco Sapori and Brunilde Sapori.

Table of Contents

Drafts and manuscripts


Printed material