Carnacciaro, a Street Vendor of Meat for Cats

Bartolomeo Pinelli

  • Carnacciaro, a Street Vendor of Meat for Cats 2
  • Carnacciaro, a Street Vendor of Meat for Cats 3
Basic information
Bartolomeo Pinelli
Carnacciaro, a Street Vendor of Meat for Cats
Date of creation
etching watercolor
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
10.2 x 16.3
Information about author
Bartolomeo Pinelli
Artist's lifetime
Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781, Rome – 1835, ibid.) was an Italian painter, engraver, and sculptor. He was the son of the ceramist G. B. Pinelli. Bartolomeo Pinelli was born in ​​the Trastevere district (over the River Tiber). Street sketches of that western suburb of Rome repeatedly appeared in his graphic works later. He studied in Bologna, later on – at Accademia di San Luca (Academy of Saint Luke) in Rome. He attended the Academy of Felice Giani, an Italian painter of the Neoclassic style, from whom he inherited the drawing style. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Bartolomeo Pinelli took an interest in the engravings of the Renaissance, namely in the works by Marcantonio Raimondi, and started making etchings and lithographs out of his drawings. In 1809, Pinelli created his first series of watercolor etchings – Collection of 50 picturesque costumes (Raccola di cinquanta costumi pittoreschi). The album was reissued in 1814 and 1815. In 1816, a new version of the album under the title Nuova Raccolta di Cinquanta costumi pittoreschi incisi di acqua forte was released. Most of the Lviv engravings are from this series. The central theme of the artist's creative work is genre scenes (Costumi), which he saw in Rome, Naples, as well as the provinces of Abruzzo and Molise. Pinelli's engravings have not only artistic value but also carry important ethnographic information. In the 1820s and 1830s, the artist created drawings and engravings for poems by Torquato Tasso (1827–1829) and the novel “Don Quixote” (1834) by Miguel de Cervantes. One of Pinelli's famous series of drawings is Seven Hills of Rome (Sette colli di Roma) (1827–1830). The artist's works are housed in many Italian museums as well as in collections of other countries.
Object description
The work is from the Roman series. An engraving titled Il Carnacciaro has been known since 1810. A version close to the "Lviv" engraving was issued in the album dated 1815. The composition similar to the "Lviv" one was issued in a black and white version in the album Nuova Raccolta di Cinquanta costumi pittoreschi incisi di acqua forte (Collection of fifty picturesque costumes) published by Giovanni Scudellari in Rome in 1817. The engraving depicts a young man carnacciaro, a street vendor of meat for cats, who is cutting blood-red pieces from a stick with the help of a special knife. There are two cats nearby, one of them is already eating a piece of meat, and the other one is jumping up, demanding his portion. On the right there is a big dog that does not dare to join the "cat" meal. A young woman who is apparently the owner of these animals is standing next to him on the left; she is leaning her head on her elbow placed on the wall of the house. There is a wooden chair next to her. The woman is watching the young man intently. He is elegantly dressed in a blue jacket, knee-length trousers, and white stockings; girded with wide yellow and red belts; there is a white tie around his neck. There is a black hat on his head and black shoes with overlays on his feet. A bag with kittens is attached to the belt on his back; he also sells them. The young man seems to be posing in front of a woman while demonstrating his skills. She is modestly dressed in a traditional blue apron over a white blouse, a long crimson skirt, and black shoes; there is a bonnet on her head. The action is taking place in the background of the city wall depicted in blurred ocher and pink, and gray and blue tones of watercolor. The depth of the composition is created due to the image of a house with an arched entrance; it is shown at an angle in the background on his right. Carnacciaro (also carnicciaro, or carnecciaro) is a carrier (vendor) of meat for cats in southern Italian cities. Carnaccia was a butcher's shop that sold liver – lungs, rumens, etc. All that was offered to cat owners or those who looked after stray animals. Early in the morning, the carnacciaro walked along the streets of the city, balancing with a curved stick on his shoulders as pieces of meat were hanging on it. It was enough for him to blow a sordino, and cats, along with dogs, ran out to meet him, thus warning their owners. A piece of meat cost 1 bajocco (bajocco = 1.5 cents). Carnacciaro also sold kittens, which he kept in a special bag. Cat meat vendors could be seen in Italian cities until the middle of the 20th century. Now in Italy they are replaced by gattara (Italian: la gattara, il gattaro, from il gatto “a cat”; English: cat ladies; Turkish: kedili kadın), representatives of the social service.
In the lower right corner there is the author’s signature Pinelli f. [fecit]. In the center of the engraving under the image there is the work’s title Il Carnacciaro. There is a number "41" in the upper right corner above the plate.