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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
Le Chevalier d'Azeglio
Carte de visite
The Italian statesman and author Count Massimo d'Azeglio was prime minister of Sardinia-Piedmont and a leading figure in the Risorgimento. He achieved prominence in the 1830's through his historical novels, which contrasted the past glories of Italy with the existing foreign domination of the peninsula. He was a bitter opponent not only of the Austrian control of northern Italy but also of the papal secular state. Because of his essentially aristocratic outlook, he would have nothing to do with any of the revolutionary societies, believing instead that Italian governments had the best chance of achieving a united Italy. After Piedmont's defeat by Austria, the new king Victor Emmanuel II appointed Azeglio premier, with the task of rebuilding the state and the monarchy's prestige. In October 1853 he resigned and was replaced by Cavour as prime minister, after a year of mounting difficulties between them, caused by Cavour's wish to increase the tempo of reform in alliance with the liberals. Despite this, Azeglio gave generous support to Cavour's Italian policy, especially the decision to annex the papal states, although he was opposed to the annexation of Naples and Sicily, believing that they should form a kingdom separate from the rest of Italy.
The Italian artist Francesco Hayez copied this photograph for his portrait of Massimo d'Azeglio, right down to the pattern of the damask on the chair upholstery.