Melchiorre Delfico’s caricatures and Italy’s Unification

Giuseppe Verdi nicknamed Melchiorre De Filippis Delfico (1825-1895) The Great Neapolitan Nadar, after the brilliant Parisian photographer and cartoonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (who, amongst other things, set up the first ever Impressionists’ group show).

Delfico, like Nadar, drew caricatures of the famous people of his time, the second half of the 19th century.

Born in Teramo, he moved to Naples in 1841 at the age of sixteen, and lived in his new hometown his whole life. He was an eclectic artist, known as a composer, opera singer, painter, and poet.

The caricatures we showcase here are from his Album di caricature in 24 tavole immaginate e disegnate da M. Delfico (“Album of caricatures in 24 tables, conceived and illustrated by M. Delfico”), published in Naples in 1860, just three years before the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in Turin.

One of his favorite subjects was, of course, his great friend Giuseppe Verdi, whom he represented in almost one hundred sketches and caricatures.

Photos via:
http://www.defilippis-delfico.it/MDFD_Album_di_caricature_1860.htm

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 2, "Giuseppe Verdi"

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 3, "Petrella": musician Errico Petrella, of the Neapolitan School

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 4, "Bolognese": Delfico supports his friend and librettist Domenico Bolognese

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 5, "Torelli, Coppola, and Corsi": the caricaturist puts the three famous music critics of the time together, in a funeral procession

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 6, "Zingaropoli and Pinto"

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 7, "Mercadante": musician Giuseppe Saverio Mercadante sitting on his compositions' scores

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 8, "Coach to Vienna": composer Tommasi, pictured as he leaves for Vienna proud of his score for "Guido and Ginevra"

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 9, "Morelli": the Neapolitan painter and politician Domenico Morelli, decapitates Giuseppe Verdi with a touch and has a frame ready for his head

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 10, "The Palizzi Brothers": painters Nicola (on the tree) and Filippo (with the spying glass) Palizzi; Delfico, in the form of a bird, watches the scene

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 11, "Battista": maestro Vincenzo Battista sits on piles of scores, with the titles of his works dispersed in the smoke of his cigar

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 12, "Altavilla, Petito, de Angelis": joyous Naples in Teatro San Carlino, with three famous folk comedy actors Pasquale De Angelis, Antonio Petito, and Pasquale Altavilla

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 13, "An Army's Debacle": in Castelfidardo, general Cialdini chases the Pope's army (the wooden soldiers) guided by general Lamoriciere

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 16: "Mutual Aid Society": Delfico, dressed like an Italian soldier, and Cavour, crouching to hunt the eagle

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 17, "Rigoletto Quartet": Verdi's quotation "bella figlia dell'amor / schiavo son dei vezzi tuoi" (from "Rigoletto", 3rd act, 1st scene) come out of the mouth of Napoleon III, as he holds in his arms the two French newborn Nice and Savoy. The illustration well represents the pacts that transfered the two regions to France, in exchange for the help given to the Savoy in the Second War of Independence, in which they conquered Lombardy

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 18, "A New World": the Old World of the Bourbons crashes down the stairs of power, as Garibaldi's army arrives in Naples, with Delfico in front waving the banner of United Italy

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 19, "The Carnival": Delfico pays homage to Cavour, conductor and political moderator, surrounded by European Peace dancing

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 20, "European Peace": Napoleon III gives the wheel a spin while nations hone their weapons

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 21, "Don Liborio": Liborio Romano, last minister of King Francis II and first minister of the new government, is surrounded by some high level employees of his ministry

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 22, "A Major's Election"

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 23: "The Caricaturist's End": Delfico, aware he bothers some, represents himself in front of the execution squad, with Cavour in the first line

Melchiorre Delfico, album caricature 1860 - caricature album

Table no. 24, "The Caricaturist beyond the grave": even from the grave, Melchiorre De Filippis Delfico continues to draw his favorite victims, including Napoleon III, Liborio Romano, Garibaldi on top; and Verdi, below. Melchiorre represents himself as a corpse, with the brush stuck in his right foot, while he draws Cavour's profile with his left foot

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