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Born in Naples, Nicolino Calyo was an accomplished American nineteenth century view painter who brought the discipline of his classical European training to vibrant portrayals of the American scene. He studied at the Naples Academy, where he learned Neoclassical, Italian, and Dutch landscape techniques and traditions. Calyo fled Italy in 1821, having participated in an unsuccessful rebellion against Ferdinand I. Over the next several years, he traveled, sketched, and painted in Europe.
In 1834, Calyo settled in Baltimore. There, he held exhibitions of his large-scale European views before departing for Philadelphia and, ultimately, New York, which became his permanent home in 1835. Calyo arrived ready to produce views of the great fire of New York, which occurred on December 16-17, 1835, a pair of which were engraved as prints by William Bennett in 1836. Over the next several years, Calyo also created numerous characterizations of urban workers, vendors, and other street figures in the manner of Jacques Callot; a group of these were published in 1840 as the Cries of New York.
As an experienced landscape artist and traveler, Calyo made watercolor and gouache sketches on location, and this example attests to his itinerancy on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Some of the studies became sources for larger scale landscapes on paper, as well as the panoramas that he exhibited in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans.
Calyo continued to be active in scenic painting through the 1850s. From known works, he appears to have done less painting during the succeeding decades before his death in 1884. Calyo remained cosmopolitan and international in perspective and politics during his entire lifetime.
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