In the final stages of construction just as the unification of Italy was at last becoming a reality, it was only to be expected that a new and powerful ship-of-war would be named in honour of Giuseppe Garibldi, the one man forever synonymous with the forging of Italian nationhood. Laid down as the Bourbon in the Naples yards Cantiere di Castlemare di Stabia on the 1st August 1857 the ship was launched amidst much rejoicing and a huge cosmopolitan crowd on the 28th January 1860, and was ready for sea early the following year. Classed as a 46-gun steam frigate and built along traditional lines as a three-masted sailing ship, she was also a fitted wth a 1,0141hp. engine by Maudsley (of London) which gave her a cruising speed of 9 knots under steam. Displacing 3,680 tons, she measured 224 feet in length with a 50 foot beam, and was assigned a crew of 25 officers and 467 ratings. Since she had been built originally for the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples and the two Sicilies, it was not until 17th March 1861 that her name was transferred into Italian registry, on the day that the new Italian navy officially came into being. Despite this, she had already seen action at the blockade of Gaeta, just up the coast from Naples, during the latter part of the siege in January and early February. The eventual surrender of the fortress of Gaeta later in February, followed by the flight into exile of Francis II , the last King of Naples and the two Sicilies, were two of the seminal events in the creation of the Italian State and thereafter, the country was able to boast its own navy for the first time in its history.
After the fall of Gaeta, Garibaldi's service career began in earnest and following a brief spell in Genoa, she remained based at Gaeta until being sent into Sicilian waters to act as Guardship to the Squadron there in 1862. Back in Adriatic in 1863, she was sent to North Africa in April 1864 to assist with the evacuation of Europeans from Tunis during an insurrection. Dry-docked when she returned home, she went back to sea early in 1866 and was attached to the 2nd Squadron under Vice-Admiral Albini. That June, Italy found itself at war with Austria and Garibaldi left Naples on the 13th, bound for Ancona, where she took part in the bombardment of the Austrian fleet lying in the San Giorgia harbour. When peace was agreed in October 1866, Garibaldi returned to Naples where she was laid up until 1870. Refitted by November 1872, she then undertook a world cruise lasting until October 1874 after which she went into reserve until sent to the Middle East to protect Italian interests during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. A second world cruise (May-August 1879) followed shortly afterwards, and in 1885 she was attached to the naval forces in the Red Sea. Once there, she became a temporary hospital ship (in April) as well at the headquarters ship for the Massian Command that December. Converted into a permanent hospital ship in 1890 and renamed Saaiti in 1893, she was sent to Eritrea in December 1894 where she remained until broken up in 1899.
Born in Rouen in 1810, Morel-Fatio was appointed Curator of Marine Paintings to the Louvre in 1852, publishing a catalogue on the museums's maritime works two years later. In 1854, he was appointed official painter to France following the fleet on the Bomaroud expedition and then on to the Crimea and Orient.