British photographic history

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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.    

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Dear Rebecca, the 'Garibaldi' appears to be an untinted print of the sterescopic portrait posted above by Denis Pellerin (see the third reply to the discussion, and look at the scans). It is not a cut-out from a newspaper, but an albumen print. The Mayall portrait of the Royal family was taken in May, 1860, but... it proves little, as it could have been added at any time later. The towns mentioned don't tell us much either, as these portraits must have been widely distributed. I have one which comes from Argentina. Many thanks for your endeavours. It looks like a most intersting album, and you might gain more information by posting some scans here on BPH. Thanks! Mike.

Rebecca Talbot said:

HI Michael,

thanks for this confirmation. This is really interesting, the leather bound album contains two city names: Chepstow and Newnham, it is written in English, first dated entry 22 Jan 1862, the photo of "Garibaldi" is most likely cut out off a newspaper and pasted in the album, no photographer mentioned. Could it be that the man is an actor of a play ?

The album is original as it contains 5 pages with watermark dating even back to 1850.

Looking forward hearing form you. Best regards, Rebecca

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