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Portrait of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Garibaldi painting

…a most striking figure....

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) is an early example of an international celebrity. He was a military leader whose considerable personal following, including a thousand volunteers, won Sicily and Naples for the Risorgimento, the movement seeking to reunify Italy in the mid-nineteenth century.

Garibaldi was viewed by many across the world as a romantic figure, and he had a very broad appeal in England. Queen Victoria was less impressed, seeing him as a revolutionary. She was nervous of the vast crowds that came out onto the streets to cheer him.

In April 1864 Garibaldi visited the Isle of Wight and stayed with the Seely family at Brooke House. Two thousand people welcomed him in Cowes, and there were large crowds in Newport too, where Garibaldi appeared on the balcony of the Guildhall. While on the Island, Garibaldi visited Tennyson at Farringford, his home in Freshwater, and met the pioneer of modern photography, Julia Margaret Cameron. Emily Tennyson described him as “a most striking figure”, and was grateful that she could give her guest a break from the constant attention that he received elsewhere.

This portrait was painted by Attilio Baccani, an Italian with studios in London. It is believed to have been commissioned by his host Charles Seely, and was discovered on the estate in 1958.

Quick Facts

  • Accession number IWCMS:2009.473
  • Medium oil on canvas
  • Artist Attilio Baccani
  • Painted in about 1864
  • Commissioned by Charles Seely
  • Found Brooke Estate, Isle of Wight
  • Date found 1958
  • Finders Louis and Julia Denaro

Facts

  • Garibaldi biscuits were produced earlier in the 1860s to celebrate the rations used by Garibaldi’s troops on their advance through southern Italy. A fashion developed for the bright red Garibaldi jacket, and figurines of the General were sold as souvenirs of his visit.
  • Dimbola at Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight, the home of Julia Margaret Cameron from 1860-1875, is a museum specialising in photography, and holds a permanent exhibition of her work.
  • It was hoped that Garibaldi would go to church in Mottistone on the Sunday and the church “was crowded to excess” but the place, “though very attractive, was far too cold for an Italian gentleman to sit through the service in”.

Did you know?

In 2009 this painting was moved to the Museum of Island History in Newport’s Guildhall, where Garibaldi appeared to the crowds on his 1864 visit.

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