This is a somewhat unusual triptych by Teramo artist Ugo Sforza, who opted for his entry in the 1930 edition of the Medaglie d’Oro competition to depict the “Battle of Hermada”, fought out on the eponymous mountain on 23 May 1917, celebrating the effort made by the Italian troops to contain the Austrian Army.
This hitherto unknown painting bears the date A.Xe.F in the bottom right-hand corner of the central panel. The date, in the formula adopted under Fascism, refers to the tenth year of the "Fascist Era", thus roughly 1931–2.
But why was the picture painted some fifteen years after the historic event that it portrays?
It is likely that Sforza's intention was to pay tribute to the glory of Italy on the occasion of the Medaglie d'Oro competition, by illustrating the Italian Army's victory over the Austrians.
One of the areas on the Italian front in World War I where the fighting was heaviest and lasted longest was the Carso around the river Isonzo.
The Tenth Battle of the Isonzo, in General Cadorna's plan, was to be the clash that would allow Italy to lay the groundwork for the reconquest of Trieste. The action was based on the Italian troops attacking Mount Hermada and surrounding the Austrian forces.
The shelling on 23 May and the ensuing battle are still remembered today as one of the clashes in which the Italian Army displayed true heroism, incurring tremendous loss of life.
The triptych is set in an especially imaginative frame in which two swords whose hilts are decorated with eagle's wings separate the three panels. The eagle's wing detail is clearly inspired by the Fascist aesthetic. Of the three pictures, the central panel depicts the thick of the battle with the troops aligned in their trenches, heavily involved in the fighting.
In the left-hand panel, on the other hand, we see a night-time march with a magnificent panoramic view of Lake Doberdò in the background; while in the right-hand panel, the artist offers us a view of the battlefield during a lull in the fighting after the din of battle has died down.