The Bertolacci Sisters
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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]