painter, came to Australia in 1885 after training in the Academy of Art, Florence. His oil painting, La Fiorentina , signed and dated 'U Nicolai Catani/ 1880’, was offered by Christies’ Australia at Melbourne on 7 May 2003, lot 341 (ill. est. $8,000-12,000). A fellow academy student, Girolamo Nerli, accompanied him to Melbourne and over the next nine years Catani shared studios with Nerli, Walter Withers and Arthur Louriero . He became deeply involved in art politics and, with Tom Roberts and the younger painters, rallied against the conservative Victorian Academy to establish the Australian Artists Association (committee member 1887). He exhibited in the Australian Artists Association’s 1887 winter (no.39 'Queen’s Wharf’, no.26 'What a Guy’) and summer exhibitions.
Catani won awards in the Oil and Watercolour Painting section at the 1888-89 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition: Honourable Mention for St. Kilda Pier and Stormy Weather and a 3rd order of merit for Studies at Queenscliff , Carnival 1888 (a still life of a hare and turkey for sale at 40 gns, offered by Bridget McConnell in May 2001) and its pair Carême (still life of fish and a lobster 40 gns, also offered Bridget McConnell May 2001 – both in their original Thallon frames with labels verso).Other works he exhibited in the Victorian Artists’ Gallery (Oil Paintings) included no.103 What a Guy! , On the Moorabul and Rêve Dor? , while the Ladies’ Court included a display of 83 paintings and drawings by the 'Pupils of Signori Catani and Loueiro’ (see Official Record p.658). The Illustrated Sydney News of 27 September 1888, 6 (info. Edwina Deakin) noted of the watercolours in the Victorian Gallery at the 1888-89 Melbourne Centennial Exhibition: 'Signor Catani’s two pieces of still life, the one representing fish and the other game, as also his fruit on panels, are so cleverly painted as almost to justify him in cultivating this branch of art as a speciality’.
Most of Catani’s income, however, came from portrait painting and teaching, even though he had the reputation of being an impatient and intolerant teacher. In 1890 an article by 'Excalibur’ about artists’ studios noted: 'As it was, several of them [Melbourne artists] were out of town, among them being … Mr Catani…’ ( Sydney Morning Herald 8 February 1890, 2: info. Ingrid Anderson). In 1895 Catani arrived in London and exhibited a collection of his world travel paintings; most were of Australian subjects. He returned to Florence in 1923 and is thought to have died there in 1943.