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What is it about Italy that makes it such a fertile seedbed for artistic genius? So many of the truly brilliant artists came from the Italian peninsula—not just in the past, but today, too.
One of today’s great artists is Marco Caratelli, who lives and works in Siena, Italy. He stands out for his use of ancient techniques: He specializes in the rare and beautiful egg-yolk tempera technique. He’s been compared to Fra Angelico and other all-time influential artists.
Caratelli follows in the extraordinary tradition of famous classic painters. He paints and sells traditional art reprographics, replicating the work of the great painters of Siena from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
He reproduces the world-renowned “Biccherne” panels, which were painted wooden covers placed over the accounting ledgers of the City of Siena from the 13th to 16th centuries. The panels were painted by famous Renaissance masters. As with the originals, Marco’s recreations are painted on aged quality wood and covered in pure gold leaf.
In addition, Marco creates luminous copies of Siena’s beautiful gilded icons. His work preserves the atmosphere of medieval Siena and the tradition of fine painting.
Aleteia had the chance to catch up with Marco recently. Here’s our conversation with “the modern Fra Angelico.”
What inspires you as an artist?
This is a really broad question. Sometimes I’m inspired when I talk with other artists about the different arts, sometimes when I see an exhibition of art which is different from the kind of work I do, or when I listen to music. But I can say for sure that I’m inspired when I am in a dark mood or when I am in close contact with nature.
Why did you decide to make art using ancient techniques?
I attended the school of art and then continued my studies at the University of Siena where I got a degree in Medieval Art History. It was during that time that my passion for antique techniques began to grow.
My town—Siena—has a strong tradition in the egg tempera technique; ancient art, medieval art was born here, in my land.
As it is a part of my land, it is a part of me. This technique runs through my veins.
Catholic art has an amazing history, especially in Italy where you live. What does it feel like to be part of that tradition?
I’m so proud and glad to be able to transfer my knowledge to the people who travel thousands of kilometres to come to Siena to see Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, and the Lorenzetti brothers. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to live in a place like Siena, the “cradle” of the Middle Ages.
What is your favorite part of being an artist?
It’s not easy being an artist because sometimes your hand is not as fast as your mind.
I love being able to see the masterpieces from which I get my inspiration, which is possible because my studio is very, very close to the most important museums of Siena.
I also love it when clients send me pictures of my pieces in their houses, it’s like having a little part of my soul in San Francisco, in New York, in Moscow, in Berlin, in many other places around the world.
But absolutely one of my favorite parts is being able to bring out the beauty of art from my darkest moments and moods.
Do you have a favorite work of art you’ve made?
This is a question I get asked a lot. I don’t have a favorite work of art; every piece I make is different, special, and unique, and when someone buys it, I can’t wait to do another piece, one that’s even better than before.