Guiseppe's Top Matches
About Guiseppe Giosue Rossetti Sangiovanni
Biographical Summary and Notes on Painted Portrait:
"...ca 1847, oil on canvas, unsigned. A charming portrait of two children—the boy is seated on a bench beside a trellis covered with grapevines, peeling a piece of fruit, and the girl is kneeling beside him, holding a small bunch of grapes, her left hand outstretched to accept a piece of the peeled fruit. In the background is a river landscape with a wagon train, an allegorical element commonly found in contemporary and historic Mormon art. In its original, gilt frame; 38” x 31” (w/o frame), 44.5” x 37.5” (w/frame).
An old paper label tacked to the back of the frame reads GGR Sangiovanni Deadwood So Dak, and the lot is accompanied by an 1821 Italian bible that is inscribed Susanna M. Sangiovanni A Present From Mrs. Rossetti March 1890 along with two manuscript letters: one providing the history of the bible’s ownership; another, a brief statement concerning GGR Sangiovanni’s birth and ancestry. The letter specific to the bible bears an additional ink signature by Sangiovanni, notarized by a Deadwood notary in 1908. That signature and the label attached to the painting appear to be by the same hand and from about the same period.
Genealogical research in conjunction with information gathered from LDS Church archives suggest that the two subject children are Guglielmo Giosue Rossetti Sangiovanni and Agnes C. Smith, painted in St. Louis, Missouri, ca 1847.
Guglielmo Giosue Rossetti (Sanjo) Sangiovanni (1835-1916), the only child from the marriage of Benedetto Sangiovanni and Susanna Mehitable Rogers, was born in London. Susanna was the oldest of eleven children born to David White Rogers and Martha Collins, both early Mormon converts. Martha was running a rooming house in the Battery section of New York when Susanna met Benedetto in 1833. Benedetto, an Italian Revolutionary in exile, sought accommodations at the rooming house where he became attracted to Susanna, persuaded her to marry him and took her to London in search of a better life. There they had a son, nicknamed Sanjo.
Susanna was happy enough early in her marriage, but she grew to fear her husband because he was jealous of the attention she paid to their son. She also believed that he had not abandoned his revolutionary activities. About this time, she and Sanjo were secretly baptized by Mormon missionaries, and shortly thereafter, with the help of these missionaries, she and her son fled England, leaving Benedetto behind. The missionaries had instructed her to take a train to Liverpool, where she could then get passage to New Orleans. Susanna and Sanjo arrived in Louisiana in 1846, and they then made the journey up the Mississippi River to Saint Louis.
While in Saint Louis, Susanna became a plural wife of William Pickett, who has been described as a “lukewarm” Mormon. When Pickett had learned that Susanna was pregnant, he left them, moving to California with his other wife, Agnes Coolbridge Smith, their twins, and Agnes’ children from her first marriage. Pickett later became an alcoholic and abandoned his family in 1870. Susanna’s son, Horatio, was born in 1848. She and her two sons then moved west, to Utah, in 1852, to be near her family.
Agnes C. Smith (1836-1873), eldest child from the marriage of Don Carlos Smith and Agnes Coolbrith, was born in Kirtland, Ohio. Don Carlos was a brother of Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church. She and Don Carlos had three children (Agnes in 1836, Sophronia in 1838, and Josephine in 1841), two of whom lived to adulthood. After Don Carlos’ death in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1841, Agnes Coolbrith married Joseph Smith, a marriage that was kept secret. After his assassination in 1844, she married to George A. Smith, a cousin of Joseph and Don Carlos. She did not, however, follow Smith west to Utah, and in the spring of 1847, she became the plural wife of William Pickett, and they moved to Saint Louis. About 1848, shortly after the birth of twins, Pickett, his wife and all of the children left the Mormon Church (and Susanna and Sanjo) and migrated to California.
Based on this information, for a relatively short period in Saint Louis in 1847-1848, during the period of the plural marriage between Pickett, Agnes Coolbrith and Susanna Sangiovanni, the children born of Agnes Coolbrith and Don Carlos Smith were living in the same household with Susanna’s son, Sanjo. Also during this time period, Agnes and William’s twins were born, and just after this household broke up, Susannah gave birth to Horatio. Within this polygamous household, the two oldest children were Sanjo and Agnes, who were both between eleven and thirteen years of age. Although the children in the portraits look to be slightly younger, these two are the most likely subjects of the portrait offered here.
Sangiovanni was a very active young man and faithful to his church. According to manuscripts located in the University of Utah Marriott Library, specifically the Eleanor C.W. Jarvis Diary and Autobiography, he taught school at the Dixie Cotton Mission at St. George, Utah in the winter of 1868 and 1869. He moved to Salt Lake City around 1870, married to Mary Ann Brown, and fathered two daughters. It is recorded in The History of Museums in Utah that he became the first caretaker of the Deseret Museum located in Salt Lake City, which is currently known as the LDS Museum of Church History and Art. Apparently, sometime after 1873, Sanjo had lost the faith and moved his family to Deadwood, South Dakota (then the Dakota Territory), where he became a saloonkeeper. Mary Ann died in Deadwood in 1886. According to the notarized letter included with this lot, Sanjo remained in Deadwood until at least 1908, but sometime before his death in 1916, he returned to Utah. He is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.
Since the tag on the frame indicates that Sanjo owned this portrait late in life (having taken it from Utah to Deadwood), and since, stylistically, the portrait dates to the 1840s, it is almost certain that Sanjo is the boy portrayed, and thus the girl is very likely little Agnes, the niece, and step-daughter of LDS founder, Joseph Smith.
Extensive genealogical and historical research accompanies the painting which supports the identification of the children..."
Guiseppe Sangiovanni's Timeline
April 27, 1835
January 1, 1870
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
November 6, 1871
December 23, 1916
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah