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Paternuosto Family


Encaustic, Fresco, & Scagliola

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Paternuosto Family


Encaustic, Fresco, & Scagliola

I appreciate the challenge of these arts. Encaustic painting famously eluded da Vinci who burned his wax. As for scagliola, I can count on one hand the workshops left in Italy who still make it. Fresco represents permanence in taste and durability; you don’t just make a painting, you make a wall, but the process is unforgiving.
— Michele Paternuosto
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Biography


A Renaissance Family

Biography


A Renaissance Family

Michele Paternuosto was born in 1943 in Molise, and from the age of 15, his life has been a flurry of artistic activity. His work in various traditional arts has been displayed in museums and galleries across Italy -Palazzo Spada, the Galleria Corsini, Palazzo Venezia, and most recently in a 2015 solo show at the Museum of Aquina - as well as in the grand homes of notable personalities from the political and artistic spheres. 

He is one of the last living masters of encaustic and scagliola in the world. Beginning as an apprentice under master painters Angelo Fratipietro and Nicola Rago, he later refined his skills abroad in Germany and Canada, finally opening his own studio in Rome. The Eternal City has been a lifelong inspiration to him, and he works only a few steps from the Colosseum.

Meanwhile, he has been a lifelong inspiration to his family, with children and even the spouses of his children taking up the torch to join him in preserving three of the rarest, most historic arts of Italy. At heart, Michele is a family man, relieved that his two passions in life, art and family, are inseparable. Around his work table are drawings by the youngest member of the artistic Paternuosto clan, and Michele's serious demeanor disappears at the sight of them. "My granddaughter can't even spell Michelangelo and she drew that!" he boasts, eyes twinkling, "She'll be a greater artist than I am some day."

It is hard to imagine - in his long artistic career he has mastered the ancient art of encaustic painting, a technique practiced by ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago which is famously vibrant owing to its translucent, and notoriously difficult, wax medium. He has perfected scagliola, a Renaissance art that uses pigmented stucco to create compositions that often resemble stone inlay. Even fresco painting, named for the fresh plaster that must be applied quickly while wet, is a technique he executes flawlessly.

With two generations following the footsteps of this master artisan and pater familias, the Paternuosto family is destined to remain a name synonymous with the living artistic legacy of Italy.