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?).