Marble carver born in Stabio, Ticino, in Italian-speaking Switzerland. Castioni settled in Paris where he worked as a praticien in Jules Dalou’s studio. Like his employer, he participated in the 1871 Paris Commune and, following its fall, took refuge in London. By c.1881, Castioni is recorded living in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, and during that decade became an assistant to Joseph Edgar Boehm. In August 1890, Boehm asked Castioni to go to Carrara to select and order some marble blocks. On his return journey, Castioni took a detour to Bellinzona, the cantonal capital of Ticino, where he joined in a popular uprising and shot dead a conservative politician. He fled back to London, the Swiss government requested his extradition and he was duly arrested. However, the 1870 Extradition Act clause stipulating that a fugitive would not be handed over if his crime had been politically motivated, resulted in Castioni’s discharge on appeal. Castioni made the newspapers again in June the following year (1891), but this time as the acknowledged carver of a portrait bust for the British Museum of Sir Henry Layard that his master, Boehm, had taken only as far as a plaster sketch at the time of his sudden death the previous December.
Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, p. 367; B. Landy, ‘Drury and Dalou – the benefits of a continental training …’, in Alfred Drury and the New Sculpture (exhibition catalogue), Canterbury, 2013, p. 15; Mapping Sculpture; Daily News, 12 November 1890, p. 5; Pall Mall Gazette, 12 June 1891, p. 7; Saturday Review, 15 November 1890, pp. 548–49; The Times, 12 June 1891, p. 10.
Terry Cavanagh November 2022