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Carlo Pellegrini, 1839-1889

Nationality: Italian
Date of Birth: March 1839
Place of Birth: Capua
Place of Death: 53 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, London


Carlo Pellegrini was a designer and lithographer.


Pellegrini drew caricatures under the name of 'Singe' and 'Ape' for Vanity Fair. According to Pennell, 'These caricatures, unlike the characterless, artless work of his vastly more popular successors to-day, were works of art, and not the mere scrawls of unteachable amateurs.'

JW liked Pellegrini's work. His sketch of JW in an overcoat with three capes was a very good likeness. Pellegrini also did a full-length painting of JW in evening dress, which was introduced into one of the Gaiety Theatre burlesques, The Grasshopper, in 1878. The Pennells record that during the performance it was apparently anounced, 'And here is the inventor of black-and-white', and Pellegrini wheeled the portrait on an easel on to the stage. JW, Oscar Wilde and Frank Miles also apparently had a song and a dance act in this farce.

Pellegrini, who in turn greatly admired JW, spent much time in his company in the 1870s and 1880s, being one of the friends who stayed close to JW after his bankruptcy. He even attempted to paint portraits in a Whistlerian manner, although with little success. Sketch after the portrait of Rosa Corder m0715 was given to Pellegrini, inscribed 'A mon Eleve Pellegrini'. He was a member of the Beafsteak Club in London and there socialised with men such as Arthur Blouet and Dick Grain, as well as with Whistler. Like JW, he was a member of The Arts Club, in his case from 1874 until 1888.


Records of The Arts Club, London; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.