The article deals with the representations of the military in liberal Italy and the role of iconic language in the military and antimilitarist propaganda in peacetime. Paintings, postcards and illustrated magazines - both military and civilian - will be analyzed in order to reconstruct the "war of representation" between antimilitarist media and those who were ideologically close to the Ministry of War between Italian unification and the eve of the Great War. Special attention will be paid to the key-figure of the draftee. Auto-representations and etero-representations of conscripts will be examined in order to explain the evolution of the image of the military conscription, and also to compare the conflicting representations promoted by the military authorities and enemies of the national standing army (Republicans, Socialists, Anarchists, the supporters of the “nation in arms”) shortly after unification, in the 1870s-1880s and in the crisis of the 1890s.
Keywords: Conscription, representation, Liberal Italy, antimilitarism, military propaganda, illustrated/ satirical magazines