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 Charles Galvani  (1805 - 1866)

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Lived/Active: Louisiana / Italy      Known for: portrait painting, art dealer

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is based on information provided by Melise Leech, great, great grand daughter of the artist.  The source is shared material from family records:

Charles Galvani was said to have been a working artist.  Two years after his death, some twenty-two paintings were auctioned in New Orleans, bringing in about $300.00 dollars.  A note on the back of an existing photograph indicates that he owned an art studio in New Orleans, and a newspaper article indicates that he was working as an artist in New Orleans in 1849.

Further information suggests that he moved his family from New Orleans to Mandeville, Louisiana when Union forces occupied the city.  He ran a "notions" shop in Mandeville.

There is apparently a church record existing showing his marriage to Ellen Molloy on 1 May 1852 in New Orleans, though I have not seen it.  He had seven children, the eldest, Charles J. , born 1853, was my great grandfather.

In the Encyclopaedia of New Orleans Artists: 1718 - 1918, there is a biographical entry for Charles (Carlos) Galvani.  The Encyclopaedia is in the Historic New Orleans Collection, eds. John A. Mahé II and Rosanne McCaffrey.  The entry is as follows:

GALVANI, CHARLES
Born Italy ca. 1805, died before June 21, 1866.
Painter, restorer, art dealer, active in N.O. ca. 1848-59.
Contemporary listings:
Restorer, 71 Canal (1849); art dealer, artist, painter, 71 Canal (1850); artist, painter, restorer, Union Gallery of Fine Arts, 13 St. Charles (1851); portrait painter, 10 Marais (1855); portrait painter, Apollo near Jackson (1856); Galvani Gallery of Paintings (1857-58); portrait painter, Canal near St. Charles (1857-58); portrait painter, 103 Canal (1856, 1858-59).
Probably in Venice as a miniaturist and lithographer (ca. 1830), Galvani may have been in N.O. By 1848.

Additional information compiled from various family records is that besides being a portrait painter, Galvani became the city's leading art dealer during the 1850's. After spending his summers acquiring artworks in Europe and the United States, Galvani would open his New Orleans gallery in October or November and remain in the city through March.

He was first recorded when he advertised the sale of a collection of Flemish and Italian paintings in November 1849. He returned in October 1850 with American and European art and opened the Union Gallery of Fine Arts, sometimes referred to as the Galvani Gallery of Paintings, at 13 St. Charles in rooms formerly occupied by the National Gallery of Paintings owned by George Cooke.

As a working artist who traveled extensively, Galvani proposed in February 1851 to establish a public gallery of art and a school of design similar to those in the northeastern United States.  He sought five-hundred backers, apparently without success, but opened his own gallery free to the public.

For his winter art seasons of 1857-58 and 1858-59, Galvani opened at 53 Street Charles with oil paintings, watercolors, and prints, and from that location became a distributor of art throughout the Southwestern United States.

During the 1850's, Galvani also sold art through local auction houses and sponsored his own weekly auctions to promote sales.  His most important public auction was in 1859 for the internationally known art collection of the wealthy New Orleans businessman James Robb.

REFERENCES
NOCD (New Orleans Commercial Directory) 1850-52, 1855-61
NOBD (New Orleans Business Directory)1858-59
Galvani
Glenk, 74
Groce and Wallace
James Robb Collection, THNOC
U.S. Census (1850) Roll 234
Newspapers:
Bee (the New Orleans Bee), Nov. 19, 1850; Jan 12, Mar. 15, 1858
Commercial Bullitan, Feb. 21, 1857; Jan 4, 1858
Daily Creole, Mar. 4, 1857
Daily Crescent, Nov. 3, 1849; Jan. 9, 1850; Feb. 21, 1851
Daily Delta, Mar. 30, 1857
Daily Orleanian, Jan. 1, 1858
Daily Pic., Nov. 23, 1849; Oct. 17, 1850; Jan. 2,15, Feb. 16, 1851; Nov. 18, 1856;Jan. 25-Feb. 12, 1857 (advertisement); Mar. 14, 1857; Feb. 12, 1860; Jun. 21, 1866
Daily True Delta, Feb. 1, Dec. 27, 1857


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