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 Girolamo Gianni  (1837 - 1895)

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Lived/Active: Italy/Malta      Known for: Painting scenes of Malta, figure, landscape, genre painting

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from Auction House Records.
PANORAMIC VIEW OF CONSTANTINOPLE, VIEW FROM BEYAZIT
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Girolamo Gianni: (Naples 1837 - Naples/Malta 1895)

Girolamo Gianni began his career as an artist of scenes arount the Bay of Naples. Then, by all accounts sensing an opportunity, he traveled to Malta in September 1866 aboard the S S Napoli. His stay in Malta was brief (one source refers to Gianni handing out leaflets in the streets of Valetta advertising himself as a painter of Neapolitan scenes), and he returned to Naples; but one year later in 1868, he returned to Malta; this time with his family.

Over the next 25+ years, he built a very successful career painting scenes of Malta, which were sold in large part to members of the Royal Navy serving with the Mediterranean fleet in Malta. His business was very much enhanced by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, since Malta then also became a stopover for Royal Navy ships bound for/from the many British colonies east of Suez.

In 1886, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean fleet, commissioned Gianni to paint the ships of the fleet. At some point, Gianni set himself up as capo scuola, or teacher, of Maltese artists. Luigi Maria Galea and Signora Manche were among his students. One source says that Gianni returned to Naples a few years before, he died in 1895, although this is open to question.

Mis-attribution of Neapolitan paintings signed Gianni is quite common, and that includes works by Girolamo Gianni. An analysis of the auction data on Girolamo Giaani indicates that in order to be accepted by the market as an authentic work by him (and to achieve the four, five, and six digit prices these works achieve), three criteria must be met. First the "G"'s in the signature must have a spiral or swirl, which is instantly recognizable. Second, the piece must be dated - as is the case with seemingly all of Gianni's authentic works. And third, the work must be in oil - on either canvas or panel. There are a few exceptions, but just a few. All other works, particularly in gouache, which are attributed to Gianni based on a G Gianni or a simple Gianni signature are works by other lesser artists, and at best sell in the low to mid hundreds of dollars.

According to a biography in the U.K's National Inventory of Continental European paintings, Gianni's business was "eventually passed along to his two daughters." Since paintings of Malta signed Gianni are known by only four different hands - the first two being Girolamo and Gian Gianni (1860-1895), who was most likely Girolamo's son; the remaining two hands,  painted only in gouache, and which bear the signatures of "M Gianni" (if there was a Maria Gianni, this would be her), and "G Gianni", are in all likelihood the signatures of his two daughters.  Both signatures are almost always diagonal in a corner, a characteristic of many of Girolamo's signatures, and both signatures are almost always  dated, also a characteristic of Girolamo's work.
 
Sources:
Online biography at http://www.burlington/ .co.uk
U.K. National Painting Inventory at http://www.vads.ac.uk/
Girolamo Gianni in Malta (1994), published in conjunction with a landmark exibition in Malta of the works of Girolamo Gianni. This is easily the definitive work on Girolamo Gianni.
 
Submitted by Neil Gaffney

Biography from Wolf's Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The most important topographer of the Maltese Islands in the latter part of the 19th Century, Girolamo Gianni virtually heads the School but remains the outstanding exponent...' (The International Dictionary of Artists who painted Malta by Nicholas de Piro)

Gianni first came to Malta in 1866, on a short excursion to assess the market for his painting there.  He obviously felt there was good money to be made, as he stayed, and, over the next twenty years, built up a successful business, eventually passed onto his two daughters.  His success was founded on his ability to represent a nostalgic, romantic ideal of Malta that appealed to foreign visitors, particularly the British; a highly lucrative market, since Malta was governed by the British.  It was not all tourist pictures though, he had some prominent patrons, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.

Some confusion surrounds Gianni's first name; he signed himself 'G Gianni' and is often confused with the artist signing himself 'Gian Gianni', though they are distinct.  The Getty Union List of Artist's Names recognizes only Giancinto Gianni, but most Maltese authorities (including the National Museum of Fine Arts in Malta), now refer to him as Girolamo Gianni.


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