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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

Still no progress identifying the man impersonating Garibaldi, nor regarding the existence of a photographer named Z. Bioni in the town of Marsala in Sicily.

However, I recently purchased another carte-de-visite which appears at first to be a pirate copy of one of the Zioni portraits. When placed side-by-side, the two portraits appear to be ever so slightly different, especially regarding the facial expression and the positioning of the sitter’s head, which leads me to conclude that there is at least one other ‘Zioni’ portrait of his ‘Garibaldi’ lookalike.

I would welcome any comments. Thank you!


Looking back over this thread, I just realised that I found yet another variant pose of the 'Garibaldi' photographed by Zioni. This example is also a pirate copy, but there can be little doubt that it came from the same studio.

michael g. jacob said:

Looking back over this thread, I just realised that I found yet another variant pose of the 'Garibaldi' photographed by Zioni. This example is also a pirate copy, but there can be little doubt that it came from the same studio.

Hi Michael,

Looking back at our conversation may I ask if you know where the Albumen print of Garibaldi might come from as it was not a cut out of a newspaper. Were these Albumen prints sold like postcards or how were they published in former times?

I try to trace them back to find more info on the origin of the Albumen prints within the Album I purchased some while ago.

Thanks and regards, Rebecca

Dear Rebecca, the ones so far found are albumen prints, either standard cartes-de-visite or stereoviews. What are the actual measurements of the example in your album? It  looks to be carte-de-visite size, and may have been sold as part of an uncut sheet of four, 6 or 8 prints. Thanks for following up, Mike.

Dear Mike,

the Garibaldi print has following measurements: 1.85  to 3.14 Inches, no entries on the back (I checked by holding the page against light), normal paper thickness.

Best regards, Rebecca

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