The Italian Boy (Carlo Ferrari)
Stock No: 001469
Height: 4.5 Inches / 11.5 cm
Reference: Possibly Unrecorded
A very rare figure that for many years has evaded an attribution. The figure, according to press accounts of the day, was manufactured to represent ‘The Italian Boy‘, Carlo Ferrari, the boy who was murdered for profit in November 1831 by John Bishop and Thomas Williams. Here Carlo Ferrari sits at the top of three steps, a cage with a white mouse inside is resting on his lap (He scraped a living by exhibiting caged white mice to Smithfield market passers bye), wearing hat, necktie, shirt, jacket, and trousers. This figure was made in Staffordshire the year after he was murdered, in very good condition having had a professional invisible repair to the ankles. The inspiration for this figure is possibly from contemporary newspaper etchings published at the time of the trial, see our illustration example that was published c1831. Today, Bishop and Williams are remembered as ‘The London Burkers’, in reference to the similar crimes of Burke and Hare in Scotland in 1828. I know of three other ‘Italian Boy’ versions of this portrait figure, all are holding cages, this being one of the rarest examples and to my knowledge the only one of its kind recorded.
If you would like to read the article I wrote on the figure, please follow this link.
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