Pellegrini, Carlo (DNB00)

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PELLEGRINI, CARLO (1839–1889), caricaturist, was born at Capua in Italy in March 1839. His father was a landed proprietor there, and on his mother's side he was descended from the house of Medici. He received a liberal education, and while still a youth led the fashion in Naples, and was courted and flattered by Neapolitan society, which he in return caricatured good-humouredly in thumbnail sketches. He was not long in dissipating the fortune his father left him, and on the outbreak of the Italian war of independence he became a volunteer in the ranks of Garibaldi, and fought with him at the Volturno and at Capua. An unfortunate love affair and the death of a sister were the causes of his leaving Italy and coming to England in November 1864. He never saw his native land again. His slender funds were soon exhausted, and he then began to turn to account his talent for humorous portraiture. It was in a very early number of ‘Vanity Fair’ (30 Jan. 1869) that there appeared his first published English caricature, a portrait of Lord Beaconsfield (then Mr. Disraeli). This bore the signature ‘Singe,’ which he soon discarded for that of ‘Ape.’ Mr. Gladstone, one of his best sketches, followed a week later, and was succeeded by several hundred portraits of statesmen and men of the day, drawn almost entirely from memory. He sought his subjects wherever they were to be found—at the club, in the theatre, on the racecourse, in church, and in the lobby of the House of Commons. He himself considered Baron Brunnow and Lord Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby) to be the best of his cartoons; but those of General Gordon and Sir Anthony Panizzi were equally good. His statuette in red plaster of Robert Lowe (afterwards Lord Sherbrooke) [q. v.] standing on a matchbox, executed in Count Gleichen's studio in 1871, was very successful, and increased his reputation. He had at one time an ambition to excel in oils, but did little beyond painting portraits of Sir Edward Watkin, Sir Algernon Borthwick (Lord Glenesk), R. W. Macbeth, A.R.A., and other friends. He exhibited once at the Royal Academy, and occasionally at the Grosvenor Gallery.

Pellegrini, who was known among his intimate friends by the sobriquet of ‘Pelican,’ was of a gay and genial temperament. He died of lung-disease at 53 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, London, on 22 Jan. 1889, and was buried in St. Mary's Roman catholic cemetery at Kensal Green.

His portrait, by Arthur J. Marks, appeared as a cartoon in ‘Vanity Fair’ for 27 April 1889, and one by Dégas belonged to Louis Fagan, esq.

[Vanity Fair, 26 Jan. and 27 April 1889; Pall Mall Gazette, 24 Jan. 1889, by Tighe Hopkins; Times, 23 Jan. 1889; Athenæum, 1889, i. 124; Bryan's Dict. ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 769.]

R. E. G.