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Bertolacci Sisters


The Bertolacci Sisters
The Bertolacci sisters were the daughters of the eccentric self-styled "Count" William Robert Bertolacci (b Colombo, Sri Lanka 1806), and his wife, Caroline Cecilia Cobham (1809 - 1873).
Bertolacci landed up in France in the 1830s, and was employed as Master of Horse to the Royal Stud of France, until forced to flee with his young family by the July Revolution of 1848, which overthrew the Orleans monarchy.
Arriving in London, Bertolacci reinvented himself as an artist - photographer, and settled in Kensington.
His daughters started work for the Vernon Gallery in the early 1860s. Within a couple of years, the sisters' expertise in photography was such that they were publishing their first album.
The sisters were
1. Caroline Cecilia Cobham Bertolacci.
Born in Abbeville, France 1840
Died suddenly in Lambeth November 1889.
2. Marie Eliza Cobham Bertolacci.
Born in Paris, France, in 1843.
Died at 26 Rostrevor Road, Fulham November 21 1929.
3. Ida Louisa Clara Cobham Bertolacci.
Born Paris, France 1845.
Married Francesco Gabriele Giovanni Battista Rizzelli (b Italy 1838; d Fulham 1910), an Italian music teacher, in Kensington August 14 1888. She died in a nursing home in Kingston, Surrey, in January 1933, the last survivor of the Bertolacci sisters.
The photographic albums published by the sisters in the 1860s (for details, see below), brought them considerable fame and recognition in photographic circles, but their father refused to allow them to open a studio on their own account. It was not until after his death (March 14 1883, at his Fulham residence), that the sisters finally decided to try the commercial side of photography, and in the following month, April 1883, opened in Kensington.
STUDIO: 25 Redcliffe Road, Brompton, Kensington 1883 - 1889 This was only about 3 blocks away from their long-term residence in Edith Grove, Chelsea, on the other side of the Chelsea Hospital - presumably Edith Grove held too many memories. Although their publishing days were 20 years in the past, their name was still remembered, and the studio flourished, making a speciality of fancy dress balls and similar occasions in the local area (See reproduction). Ida?s withdrawal, on her marriage in 1888, was a considerable blow; the sudden death of Caroline in the next year forced the surviving sister, Marie to close the studio almost immediately (November 1889). Marie went to work as a cashier in a Fulham Road department store, from which she retired in 1908.
The Bertolacci clan were widespread in Victorian London; another of its outstanding members was John Hewetson Bertolacci (1850 - 1922), a doctor in Wandsworth.
COLLECTIONS: None known.
LITERATURE: William Robert Bertolacci. The glass room. (Letter from 27 Abingdon Villas, Kensington). In Photographic Notes May 15 1865 pp 133 - 136, figs; The glass studio. In Photographic Notes Aug 15 1865 pp 213 - 217, figs. Leading article (? by Thomas Sutton) In Photographic Notes June 1 1865 pp 145 - 146, refuting a "rude " article (? by Thurston Thompson) in P J May 15 1865. The leader includes a reply by Caroline Bertolacci . William Bertolacci replied to Thompson?s article in a letter published in Photographic Notes August 1 1865 pp 199 - 200. William Bertolacci experimented in spirit photography at the time of the Mumler affair, and published: Christian Spiritualism: wherein is shown the extension of the human faculties by the application of modern spiritual phenomena, according to the doctrine of Christ. London, Emily Faithfull, 1864. This was reviewed at length in Emma Hardinge Britten. Nineteenth century mircles; or, spirits and their work in every country of the earth. A complete historical compendium. London, W. Britten, 1884. pp 167 - 171.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Photographs from Turner's "Liber Studiorum". London, Cundall, Downes & Go, (1862). Reviewed in Athenaeum December 27 1862 pp 849 - 850. Not listed in Gernsheim, Incunabula. TURNER, J M W. Turner's England and Wales, a series of photographic copies by the Misses C C & M E Bertolacci. London, Colnaghi, 1864. Originally issued in parts. 96 black and white prints. Gernsheim, Incunabula 255. Reviewed in Art Journal 1864 p 192. TURNER, J M W. Turner's Liber Studiorum. London, Colnaghi. Issued in parts. 72 black & white prints. Gernsheim, Incunabula 246. Reviewed in Art Journal January 1864 p 31. TURNER, J M W. "Richmondshire" by J M W Turner. The twenty subjects photographically reproduced by C C & M E Bertolacci. London, Colnaghi, 1865. 20 black & white prints in portfolio. Gernsheim, incunabula 276. Reviewed in Art Journal January 1865; Athenaeum February 17 1865 p 31; Morning Star end February 1865. TURNER, J M W. Turner's "Rivers of England", photographically reproduced by Misses C C & M E Bertolacci. London, published by Bertolacci, 1865. 20 black & white prints in portfolio. Gernsheim, Incunabula 277. A note in the Art Journal February 1869 p 62 says that the sisters also published photos from bas-reliefs by John Bell. An overall review of the photographic work of the Bertolacci sisters was published a few years after it had ended: The Misses Bertolacci's photographs after Turners works. In Fine Arts Quarterly Review NS Vol


Photographer [List all] 1860

Linked toIda Louise Cobham Bertolacci; Caroline Cecelia Cobham Bertolacci; Marie Eliza Cobham Bertolacci

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