Oh My God! They Told Me that the Mansion Was Not Guarded!


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 Franz Joseph I (1830–1916), the aged emperor of Austria-Hungary, as a thief who is being bitten by a guard dog at the gates of a mansion labeled “Villa Italia.” The emperor exclaims, in a combination of German and Italian, “Oh My God!...  They Told Me that the Mansion Was Not Guarded!” Italy was initially neutral during World War I. It waited on the sidelines for some time to see how the war progressed. After breaking up the Triple Alliance that had bound it to Austria and Germany for 30 years, Italy finalized secret negotiations with the Triple Entente (France, United Kingdom, and the Russian Empire) in the Treaty of London signed on April 26, 1915. It declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on May 23, 1915, entering the war on the side of the entente.

Last updated: April 13, 2016