A Portrait of the Italian Artist Paola Marinangeli
by Judith Wich-Wenning
The Italian painter Paola Marinangeli is a very friendly and charming person with a huge passion for Arabian horses. She lives in Rome, a hub for art and culture from many different ages. Paola’s paintings all carry her typical style. They are easily recognizable as her works at the first glance. Arabian horse breeders and art enthusiasts around the world collect her paintings. This article will provide you with background information about Paola Marinangeli and her work.
Asked how and when she became interested in Arabian horses, Paola remembers: “I have always loved horses and dogs, since I was a child and started to paint dogs very, very early. Occasionally I drew some horses but just for fun. I always had books about dog breeds and horses in my library and twenty years ago I noticed in one of these books some Arabians. I knew a little bit about this breed, as well as about Andalusians or Thoroughbreds but never thought before to go deeper into the study of Arabian horses. Well, it was as I now always say love at first sight. I was fascinated by such a special beauty and harmony. Soon the desire came to portray them and represent their beauty and fascination. The first works were done just for myself, to test and to experiment. Then an Arabian horse breeder in my country noticed my works and this was the start of a big passion. It was very challenging and gave me and continues to give me a lot of joy. It is a source of pride for me, and my artistic inspiration reached maturity from the technical and emotional point of view, over these 20 years of hard work. My passion for these wonderful horses is stronger than ever.“
The famous straight Egyptian stallion Hadidi (Norus x Hebet Allah) was the first Arabian Paola Marinangeli ever saw. She remembers: “He was also one of the very first Arabian horses I have portrayed. Also Polish stallion Piruet (Probat x Pieczec) was among the first Arabians I had the chance and joy to see in the show ring and at the stud farms where they lived 20 years ago. They were two different types of beauty. But there is another source of inspiration, very strong and still among my favorites and this source is Albadeia Stud in Egypt. The owner, Dr. Nasr Marei, has been one of the very first Arabian horse breeders I have contacted at the beginning of my painting career to have photos, suggestions, critiques on my works…. I am very much indebted to Dr. Nasr Marei, and I am honored to be his friend.
My first encounter with the Arabian horse was love at first sight. No other creature is able to provide more inspiration and emotion for my art. Twenty years ago I have decided to dedicate my painting activity to Arabian Horses in addition to dogs paintings and portraits. The fascination, elegance and nobility in Arabian horse breed are something unique and the important cultural heritage behind this breed is so remarkable. This is another factor that guided me towards a strong desire to explore this breed deeper and to be more and more involved in painting.”
As many Arabian horse artists, Paola Marinangeli is fascinated by Egyptian Arabians. “Straight Egyptians are absolutely my biggest passion.” Asked if her profession has anything to do with Arabians, Paola explains: “Well, my painting activity is now my profession. I have retired by my ‘first job’ five years ago after 30 years of service with UN Agencies and now I can dedicate all my time and my energies to painting and photography (that is another strong passion but … not horse related).“
Paola is very proud of her home. She relates: “I live in the center of Rome, one of the most beautiful and fascinating places in the world. I love my hometown and my country – well, I am proud to be Italian. I live with my sister who shares my passions and actually is my secretary. We have a lovely Italian greyhound female whose name is Farida, a name given to her as a tribute of admiration to Arabian horses and also because this name has a wonderful meaning … unique … precious! I really enjoy reading, music, I love history of art that I have studied a lot over the years with a special emphasis on Far East and Middle East arts, I love photography (my late father was a very talented photographer), love cooking (being Italian it is so natural to enjoy good food) and love to be in touch with people coming from different countries, cultures and religions and share with them my passions.“
Paola continues: “I would love to travel more and visit farms and shows, but it is not always possible as I need time to produce my paintings, not only Arabian horses related. When I have the chance, I visit stud farms to meet the horses I love most. Shows are always very exciting, it is a nice occasion to meet friends and to me it is also a way to learn more about Arabian horse conformation.“
Paola Marinangeli has already sold her artwork to numerous different countries. She smiles: “I am very lucky because I have clients-friends in many countries and this makes me feel very happy and proud, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, USA, Germany, France, my home Italy and other European countries.“
Besides of horses, Paola has a second passion. She relates: “I have always loved dogs, we used to have dogs in my family. I can’t live without a dog around me, and my painting activity started with dog breeds years before my involvement with Arabian horses. My favorite dogs are all types of sighthounds and there is a reason for this strong preference: They are like Arabian horses. Sighthounds are creatures of great beauty but also great personality, they are free spirits who love their human companions but pretend respect. Both sighthounds and Arabian horses have a long history, being human companions from the ancients of time. Breeds like Salukis and Sloughs have the same cultural heritage like Arabian horses. There is another factor, more related to painting technique. Both sighthounds and Arabian horses are the most difficult types of animals to be portrayed. So it is very challenging for an artist to show their beauty. It is easy to exaggerate some characteristics, to make sighthounds with long, long muzzles or ‘Barbie looking’ Arabian horses. My goal is to show their beauty the way this beauty is. This is absolutely what I am trying to show with my art.“
Paola continues: “To portray Arabian horses is not an easy task; a lot of study, dedication, exercise and strong passion are required in order to obtain good results. I do love to represent Arabian horses the way they really are, not exaggerating the breed main characteristics, showing the elegance, respecting the perfect combination of elements that create a wonderful horse with an excellent stamina, a beautiful horse but also a functional horse. My realistic style of painting requires a lot of care to reach this goal.
My favorite painting techniques are the classic oil colors on board, canvas or paper. I also enjoy painting in watercolor and a mix-technique of watercolor-gouache. I do of course also the basic technique of drawing with graphite pencil or water-soluble pencils, which is an ethereal, essential technique that suits perfectly the ethereal beauty of the Arabian horse. I like to paint head studies as well as full body horses even though I believe that in case of a commissioned portrait, it’s the head, with the right eyes expression that can identify better the portrayed ‘model’. Painting under commission is the biggest part of my work and also the most challenging one but I do love also to portray ‘fantasy’ horses. Then I draw my personal ideal of Arabian horse beauty. Over these twenty years of painting activity I had also the honor to cooperate with different show organizers and to provide original trophies for the Championships. I would like to mention in this respect the World Championship Show for Straight Egyptians organized in Italy during the month of October.
For an artist it is imperative to improve, to refine both the technique side but also the emotional side of his work. Paola states: “Encouraging words of appreciation by my clients and friends assured me that I have reached over the years a very good level of quality, a maturity as far as style, soul and feeling are concerned, but there is always room to improve, to develop new techniques and to experiment something new. However, this has always to respect this wonderful breed and my ‘personal’ style.”
Paola Marinangeli has some aspiring plans for the future: “My dream is to organize – hopefully in the near future – an exhibition to show my works, how my style and technique improved over these 20 years of Arabian horse painting. Also I would love to produce a book to show the best of my paintings and to tell something about my passion for Arabian horses. They are an endless source of inspiration for me … a vision of beauty, a vision of perfection, a joy for eyes and soul!“
About the author
Judith Wich-Wenning is a well-known prolific journalist from Germany. She has published the highly appreciated book “Jewels of the Desert” as well as numerous articles and photos in various international Arabian horse magazines. The Arabian horse in art is one of her most favorite subjects. Her travels have taken her around the world and especially to the Middle East. Judith Wich-Wenning breeds fine Arabians of straight Egyptian bloodlines at her stud farm “Orienta Arabians”.