British photographic history

Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history

This carte-de-visite from my collection is titled ‘Guiseppe Garibaldi (From Life)’.

I have three variant images from the same series by the photographer Z. Bioni of Marsala, Sicily.

One example of the Garibaldi portrait by Bioni is held by the National Portrait Gallery in London. Bioni’s name appears in various British index lists, all of which refer to the cdv in the NPG collection, though no details of the photographer’s first name or activities are given, and he is totally unknown in Italy.

Is it possible that Z. Bioni never existed?

I believe that this carte is a period fake, imitiating the well-known portrait of Garibaldi made by Gustave Le Grey in Palermo, Sicily, on 6th June, 1860.

Dated June, 1862, on the verso, it ignores the fact that Garibaldi was in his home on the island of Caprera until June 27th, 1862, when he set sail (once again) for Sicily.

As the titling is in English, including Guiseppe (sic), a misspelling of Garibaldi’s first name, I wonder whether the carte might have been made in England, rather than Sicily, as the maker claims. The type setting is very similar, for example, to the one used by Mayall, and the quality of the Bioni print is notable.

I would be keen to know: a) whether any collector possesses this carte or variants of it; b) whether any other photographs by Z. Bioni are known; c) whether anyone has any biographical information regarding Bioni; and d) whether anyone can identify the figure seen here portraying Garibaldi (possibly in a stage play?).

Many thanks.    

Views: 213


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


This is definitely Garibalidi. We have two stereoscopic portraits apparently taken on the same day and in the same studio in Dr. Brian May's Collection. I will fish them out and send you as much information as I can on those pictures. I will also check whether we have anything by Z. Bioni in the collection.

Best wishes,


I'd be most grateful to see the portraits, Dennis, but I doubt that they are the man portrayed in this carte-de-visite. Thanks for answering, and I look forward very much to confirming that your portraits really are the REAL Garibaldi. Physiognomically, this man is very different from all the known portraits of the Hero of Two Worlds. Additionally, any information relating to the actual existence of Z. Bioni would be most welcome.

Hi Michael,

you are right. It cannot be Garibaldi. The features, especially the eyes, do not match at all. Interesting that the caption on your card says it is Garibaldi and that the card was sold as being a portrait from life. Could he be a "lookalike" who was used as a model by an unscrupulous photographer ? The coloured photo attached has a blind stamp from Mason of Brighton but it doesn't mean he was the photographer. There are many photos bearing his blind stamp which are not by him. It appears there are several pictures of this unknown man but it does not solve the mystery of who this man actually was. Fascinating ! The game's afoot, as someone would have said ! Garibaldi%20lookalike-2.jpg Garibaldi%20lookalike-1.jpg

Wow! Fascinating. This stereo view is totally new to me. And it does appear to be the same Garibaldi wannabe! His hair and beard seem to have grown a little bit, so not a one-off session, perhaps. It is beautifully coloured, and must look great in a viewer. I've been asking around, especially in Italy (where I live), and while a lot of interest has been expressed, nobody has any idea who the sitter was, or who Z. Bioni might have been. So, yes, the game's afoot, and the hunt goes on! Many thanks. Would it be possible to see the other portrait, as well, please?  

Oops, sorry, Denis, I just spotted the other file! Definitely him again.

A new false Garibaldi just popped up on Ebay - that makes 5 Z. Bioni portraits so far!


No, he isn't Garibaldi for me. I'm Italian, I've seen thousands of photos of him... He is not. In my humble opinion.

Reply to Discussion


© 2019   Created by Michael Pritchard.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service