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Carlo Pellegrini, the well-known portrait caricaturist, was born in Capua in 1838 and died in London in 1889. While still a youth he was a leader of fashion in Naples and was courted and flattered by Neapolitan society, which he in turn caricatured good humouredly in thumbnail sketches. He settled in England in 1864 and turned his talent for caricature to good account as a contributor to 'Vanity Fair'. His caricatures of politicians and men of the day, drawn almost entirely from memory, were extremely popular and initiated a new style of humorous portrait caricature. Degas appears to have had these types of caricature in mind, especially in the tall format, when making this portrait.

August 2004