Gaetano Ciniselli


Italian-born Gaetano Ciniselli (1815−81) was the head of a large circus family, a circus equestrian, and a horse trainer who was taught by the famous French riding master François Baucher (1796−1873). He achieved fame throughout Europe and in 1877 founded and became director of the Ciniselli Circus in Saint Petersburg, which was housed in the first stone structure in Russia purpose-built for circus. He brought to the Saint Petersburg public all of the best performers and pantomimes of Europe. This portrait of Ciniselli was taken by Charles Bergamasco (1830−96), the world famous imperial photographer who was active in the Russian capital in the 1860s−1870s. Bergamasco was born in northern Italy and moved to Saint Petersburg in the 1840s with his mother, a painter. He started as an actor at the French Theater in Saint Petersburg but became interested in the new daguerreotype process, which he studied for a time in Paris. He returned to Saint Petersburg where he opened his own studio. Bergamasco won numerous prizes and became famous for his photographs of European royalty, including Tsar Alexander III and Queen Victoria. The photograph was a gift to the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus (successor to the Ciniselli Circus) by Carolina Ciniselli, one of the three daughters of Gaetano Ciniselli, all of whom were circus equestriennes.

Last updated: July 14, 2014