[…] In the same way, politicians today change their beliefs every quarter: once they all believed in Bismarck, yesterday it was Gambetta, and today it’s Beaconsfield, who until recently was a Hebrew. […] Metternich was once as celebrated as Bismarck, Palmerston more so than Beaconsfiled – yet who recalls them today? And the Bonaparte family under Napoleon I made Europe tremble, so did Napoleon III […] (transl. David Welsh).
These are the words of Ignacy Rzecki, one of the protagonists of The Doll by Bolesław Prus. Indeed, who recalls them today? When relishing the flavour of Pizza Margherita, do we remember the Italian royal couple, Umberto and Margherita of Savoy? Yet it was in order to celebrate the royal couple’s visit to Naples in 1889 that the baker Raffaele Esposito baked Pizza Margherita with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, all symbolizing Italian national colours.
Let us now move back in time and recall those who ‘made Europe tremble’ in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They made our task easier, posing for portraits not