John B. Monaco Portrait Painting - Study of John Singleton Copley's painting of John Hancock
See this artwork in context
View In Room
1 of 6 images

John B. Monaco
Study of John Singleton Copley's painting of John Hancock



John B. Monaco 1916 painting and study of the John Singleton Copley portrait of John Hancock. San Francisco artist and San Francisco city documentary photographer John.B. Monaco, (Giovanni Battista Monaco) (American, 1857-1938). Signed lower right "J. B. Monaco S.F. 1916." Unframed. In his early days in the city, John B.Monaco came to the attention of the prominent artist Domenico Tojetti and studied painting with him for several years. A writer commented on J. B.'s distinctive style, "One must see his studies of Napoleon, Washington, and Lincoln to judge this quality." J.B. Monaco: The Dean of North Beach Photographers Historical Essay by Richard Dillon, from North Beach: The Italian Heart of San Francisco, 1985: Presidio Press, Novato CA: In a local paper, circa 1923, J. B. was profiled as "a Swiss photographer and painter of San Francisco's Bohemia." He liked that. He told his anonymous interviewer that, at the age of fifteen in Livorno, he got his first art lesson by mischievously ringing, repeatedly, the doorbell of an established artist. The man promptly boxed his ears for disturbing him. "But," added Monaco, "while he was 'massaging' my ears, my eyes were feasting over his roomful of paintings, and the result of it all was a lot of artistic and fatherly advice." The photographer told his interviewer, "For real pleasure, I say, give me a canvas, paints, brushes, pipe, and a pretty subject--if it isn't asking too much at sixty -- six." Monaco was also pleased when the March 1938 issue of Focus, a magazine published by Hirsch and Kaye, the West's largest independently owned photographic supply house, devoted its lead story to J. B. and his work. The cover bore a halftone from a photo of his 1929 romantic painting of a Neapolitan boy. At eighty-one, he was in good health although only months away from his death. His years rested easily on his shoulders. But his pride would not allow him to admit that financial reverses had taken his studio from him. He told his visitor that he had decided to retire and had therefore closed his photography business. Monaco reminded his interviewer that he had been painting long before he started taking photos. At age thirteen, in fact, he painted Vesuvius. However, he depicted the volcanic peak as it had appeared during the full eruption of 1833. He used pigments that he made of ash, charcoal, and pulverized brick. The rude but vivid canvas hung on the wall of his home. Today the painting is on display in Alessandro Baccari's North Beach Museum, on loan from Richard Monaco. In his early days in the city, Monaco came to the attention of the prominent artist Domenico Tojetti and studied painting with him for several years. The Focus writer commented on J. B.'s distinctive style, "One must see his studies of Napoleon, Washington, and Lincoln to judge this quality." Obviously impressed by the still suave and jovial old gentleman, the writer closed the article by saying, "J. B. Monaco, photographer, painter, gentleman of leisure; we are proud to call him friend." His grandson Richard today owns Monaco Labs, a motion picture and video laboratory in San Francisco. Dick also has devoted much time to the rediscovery and appreciation of the pioneer photos of the Dean of North Beach Photographers, his grandfather, J. B. Monaco. John B. Monaco's legacy to his adopted city is the collection of hundreds of photographs, both portraits and North Beach cityscapes, which survived the closing of his studio and are now in the hands of his grandson. When Alessandro Baccari opened his North Beach Museum in 1978, Kevin Starr wrote an Examiner story in which he compared the Swiss's work with that of Arnold Genthe in Chinatown. Both men were portrait photographers by profession whose best work was done in their avocational urban landscapes.


  • Artist
    John B. Monaco (1856 - 1938, Swiss American)
  • Creation Year
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Condition
  • Condition Details
    Very good with some in painting to a few areas.
  • Dimensions
    H 20 in. x W 18 in. x D 1 in.H 50.8 cm x W 45.72 cm x D 2.54 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Soquel, CA
  • Reference Number
  • Seller Reference Number
Buyer Protection Guaranteed
Our Promise To You: If you're not happy with the way an item arrived, we'll work with the seller on your behalf to ensure you're satisfied with the resolution. Read more

Delivery, Returns & Payment

  • Delivery
    Rates vary by destination and complexity
    Shipping methods are determined by item size, type, fragility and specific characteristics.
    Shipping costs are calculated based on carrier rates, delivery distance and packing complexity.
  • Return Policy

    This item can be returned within 14 days of delivery.

    View details
  • Online Payment Methods
    1stdibs accepts the following payment methods
  • Item Invoice
    Generate an invoice that you can customize and print.

About the Seller

4.9 / 5
Platinum Seller
1stdibs seller since 2014
Located in Soquel, CA
You may also contact the seller by phoneCall seller through 1stdibs
More From This Seller
Flamenco Dancer
Richard Ruh Epperly
1930s American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Canvas, Oil, Cardboard
Haunting portrait of a flemenco dancer by Richard Ruh Epperly (American, 1891-1973), circa 1930. Signed lower left "R.R. Epperly." Condition: Excellent. Image size; 16"H x 12"W. Pre...
Portrait of a Woman, Emily Murphy Canadian
Helen Charlton McClain
1930s American Impressionist Portrait Paintings
Canvas, Oil
Substantial and period portrait of Emily Murphy with Feudal symbolism and Justice in the background by Helen Charlton McClain (Canadian, 1884-1960.) Signed "H. McClain" lower right. ...
Caribbean Beauty
Lucille H. Olpin
1970s American Impressionist Portrait Paintings
Canvas, Oil
A beautiful, painterly portrait of a young Caribbean woman by Lucille H. Olpin (Ethel Lucille Harman Olpin) (American, 1909-1990). Signed "Olpin" lower right corner. Card w...

Patricia Gillfillan
Tea Time, 1980

$715 Sale Price
20% Off
Tea Time
Patricia Gillfillan
1970s American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Oil, Canvas
Portrait of a young woman enjoying tea time by Patricia Gillfillan (American, 1924-2016). Carmel and San Luis Obispo, California area artist. From a collection of her works. Unsigned...
You May Also Like
Memories at the Cove
Don Hatfield
21st Century and Contemporary American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Canvas, Oil
American artist, Don Hatfield, recently completed this gorgeous painting. A man and three children sail a toy sailboat in a charming cove. Hatfield uses a beautiful color palette of ...
Child and Baby Dogs on the Beach
Nicholas Saleem Macsoud
Mid-20th Century American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Nicholas Saleem Macsoud (1884-1972) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) 5 July, 1936 B'klyn Artist's Work Featured At Pocono Show Nicholas S. Macsoud's Work Part of Mano...
A New Beginning
American School
Early 20th Century American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
AMERICAN SCHOOL (CIRCA 1920) (worked from c.1920) A NEW BEGINNING C. 1920 OIL ON CANVAS An American School oil on canvas painting of a smartly dressed immigrant family as they arr...
Untitled (Portrait of a Boy)
Carl Lindin
1920s American Impressionist Portrait Paintings
A portrait of the artist's son, Greg, at the typewriter by Carl Lindin of Woodstock, New York, from the 1920s. Housed in the original frame, outer dimensions measure 26 ¾ x 22 x 3 ¼...
The Men
Jennifer Pochinski
2010s American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Beautiful Framed painting by Bay Area Figurative painter, Jennifer Pochinski. Currently part of the "Here & Now" exhibition featuring 18 contemporary artists. 10x10'' panel framed in...
American 20th century oil painting "Portrait of...
Richard Sargent
20th Century American Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Paper, Gouache
A wonderful portrait of a woman from the 1950's with beautiful blonde hair wearing a white colored shirt. The impressionistic style is very attractive with fast brushwork and dashing...
Pal Fried
1950s American Impressionist Portrait Paintings
Paper, Pastel
An alluring and provocatively moody original pastel by Hungarian-born artist Pál Fried, which is signed by the artist in the lower left corner and housed behind glass in a beautiful,...
Sarah Bernhardt Hunting with Hounds by Louise Abbe
Louise Abbema
19th Century Impressionist Figurative Paintings
Canvas, Oil
Louise Abbéma 1858-1927 French Sarah Bernhardt Hunting with Hounds (Diane) Signed "Louise Abbema" (upper left) Oil on canvas This painting was illustrated in the catalog...

Why Shop on 1stdibs?

Learn More

Only Vetted, Professional Sellers

Buyer Protection Guaranteed

Fully Insured Global Deliveries