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Prince Albert was an early adopter of portrait photography

Charles Bergamasco (1830-96)

Giovanni Matteo Mario (1810-83) c. 1860

Albumen print carte de visite | 8.8 x 5.6 cm (image) | RCIN 2913704

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Photograph of a head and shoulder length portrait of the Italian opera singer Giovanni Matteo Mario who faces the viewer and with his torso angled three-quarters to the right. 

As a child of the nobility, Mario was born in Cagliari, Sardinia in 1810. His father, Don Stefano the Marquess of Candia, was an aide-de-camp to King Charles Felix of Sardinia. He studied at the Royal Military Academy at Turin and served in the King of Sardinia's Royal Guards. However, his views in support of the unification of the Italian Peninsula saw him expelled from the army from where he escaped to France. In Paris, the young Mario met Prince and Princess of Belgiojoso who recognised his vocal talent and supported him in taking singing lessons despite his family's dissaproval of his decison to follow a musical career as a tenor singer. 

Mario made his operatic debut in London in 1839 and met the Italian soprano Giulia Grisi whom he eventually married. In 1849 Mario appeared on te stage in Birmingham and in 1854, both he and Grisi toured the USA. Mario's salubrious taste soon caught up with him and by the 1870s he was facing financial hardship. In 1878 a benefit concert was organised to provide Mario with a pension. He died 5 years later in Rome in 1883. 

  • Creator(s)

    Charles Bergamasco (1830-96) (photographer)

    Giovanni Matteo Mario (1810-83)
  • 8.8 x 5.6 cm (image)

    10.5 x 6.3 cm (mount)

    23.1 x 17.5 cm (page dimensions)

  • Acquired by Prince Albert

  • Object type(s)
      • visual works
        • albums
          • photograph albums
        • photographs
          • cartes-de-visite
    • Arts, Recreation, Entertainment & Sport
      • Music
        • Musicians