Italian political satire on the looming Spanish-American War

Litografia Francesco Casanova e Figlio, Questione Ispano-Americana – ossia – Armistizio, Guerra, Pace – ovvero – Come finirà? Bologna, 1898.
Chromolithograph, 13 ¾”h x 22 5/8”w at neat line plus title, text and margins. Center fold as issued and a bit of wear along edges, but very good.

A striking political cartoon from the Bolognese journal La Rana, probably issued in early 1898 as tensions between Spain and the United States were coming to a head. Spain, astride a bull and holding her “little king” in her left arm, charges at America, in the guise of a beautiful young woman wearing a liberty cap and being pushed toward conflict by the “war party.” Perched on the bull behind Spain is a frog labeled “Finanza” (“Finances”) a complex verbal and visual pun on La Rana, whose literal meaning is “frog” but is Bolognese slang for “broke.” In the background, Cuba kneels passively under a sign reading “Spanish Occupation.” The title translates roughly as “Hispanic-American issue – that is – Armistice, War, Peace – that is – How it will end?”

The Bolognese journal La Rana first issued in 1865. (The title is local slang for “broke,” as in not having a penny to one’s name.)

“Among the numerous anti-clerical satirical papers, published after the abolition [in 1859] of pontifical censorship, the periodical “La Rana” stands out… edited by Leonida Gioannetti and Augusto Grossi (1835- 1919).


“It is composed of four pages, containing stories, rebuses, charades and satirical poems. It also presents a column dedicated to Italian and foreign politics. The main feature is the central lithographic page, which from 1879 will become very colorful. The most successful prints, according to Alfredo Testoni, will be “raised to the honor of paintings by living rooms.”


“Issued weekly, in 1872 it will be accompanied by a French edition, “La Grenouille,” suppressed shortly afterwards by the French authorities. After overcoming a serious crisis, due to the departure of the caricaturist Grossi, “La Rana” will continue publications until 1912.” (“Il giornale umoristico “La Rana,”” at