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Girolamo Gianni was born in Naples in 1837. On his first visit to Malta in 1866, he ended up staying there for six months. He returned to Naples so impressed with the island he returned there with his family in 1868 to live in the coastal town of Valletta. He was very successful in Valletta, painting many scenic works of Malta and its harbour.

In 1886, the Duke of Edinburgh became Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in Malta and commissioned Gianni to paint the Fleet’s ships. Most of Gianni’s work was purchased by the officer class of the British garrison in Malta as well as their naval counterparts, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 when work from Malta was in high demand. He eventually set himself up as a capo scuola. Gianni returned to Naples for the latter part of his life, continuing to paint scenes of Malta until his death in 1895.

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