George Biddle, The Master Race
In 1951, Biddle accepted a yearlong fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, which had only recently reopened, having suspended its hosting of American architects and artists during World War II and its immediate aftermath. The Eternal City that Biddle came to was physically in shambles. The Roman people were haunted by the past and traumatized by the violence of the fascist era and the Nazi occupation.
Not surprisingly, Biddle’s Rome Series includes numerous works inspired by Italian subjects. The Master Race contemplates the recent history of fascism. The central figure of the devil may be inspired by medieval Italian models of the devil presiding over his domain.