Carlo Pellegrini

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Carlo Pellegrini

by Harry Furniss
Pen and ink with traces of pencil on Bristol board, circa 1919
9 in. x 5 3/4 in. (228 mm x 147 mm) overall
NPG 3500

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Inscriptionback to top

Inscr. in blue pencil top left-hand corner: ‘28’, and inky fingerprint;
in blue pencil top right-hand corner: ‘3 7/8’.

This portraitback to top

Harry Furniss was fifteen years younger than Pellegrini; he was much his junior on the Vanity Fair staff, and contributed just two caricatures (in 1881 and 1898) as compared to Pellegrini’s total of 333 drawings for the magazine.

NPG 3500 is a posthumous image, based on the well-known caricature by Arthur James Marks published in Vanity Fair on 27 April 1889 (see ‘All known portraits, By other artists’). Pose and costume owe everything to Marks’s drawing, although the hands are differently placed and have been redrawn. It seems that Furniss produced the image as an illustration to his memoirs of circa 1919, My Bohemian Days, published thirty years after Pellegrini’s death. In the book he recalls his first impression of him, observed at the Albion Tavern, Drury Lane, around 1873: ‘a foreigner, a rather stout little man with hair parted in the centre, a moustache, and speaking with an unmistakeable broken accent […] I knew Pellegrini well in after years.’[1]

The shirt-cuffs are prominent, emphasizing the figure’s stockiness. They are also an insider’s reference to Pellegrini’s working methods, as described by Furniss:

When the poor fellow was ill a friend of his one day set to work to put his room in order and in moving a screen was surprised to find behind it a number of soiled shirts. He began to count them over with a view to sending them to the laundry, when Pellegrini starting up exclaimed, ‘You fellow! you leave my shirts there, or I am a ruined man. Don’t you see they are my “shtock in drade”?’ And sure enough upon the huge familiar linen cuffs were numerous notes in pencil – sketches, in fact, from life for coming caricatures.[2]

See NPG collection 3337–3535, 3554–3620

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Furniss [1919], pp.66–8.
2) Furniss 1901, vol.1, p.138; for related accounts see Furniss [1919], p.71; and Jopling 1925, p.251.

Physical descriptionback to top

Full-length, standing, slightly to right, full-face, wearing top hat and holding cigarette in left hand.

Conservationback to top

Conserved, 1980.

Provenanceback to top

The artist; his sons, from whom purchased (through Theodore Cluse), April 1947

Exhibitionsback to top

Harry Furniss 1854–1925: Confessions of a Caricaturist, NPG, London, 1983 (19).

Reproductionsback to top

Furniss [1919], p.67.

View all known portraits for Harry Furniss

View all known portraits for Carlo Pellegrini