Nicholas A. Volpe was a gifted and internationally
celebrated artist in his lifetime, and even more so since his
passing. Some of his most memorable works include portraits of
Hollywood celebrities, and he attained a lifetime contract to
create portraits of the annual winners for Best Performance of
an Actor and Best Performance of an Actress at the Academy Awards.
Among his accolades, Nicholas Volpe was awarded the record industry's
Golden Grammy Award for the cover design of Frank Sinatra's Capitol
album, "Only the Lonely".
The Beatles first sat for Nicholas Volpe in 1964 at New York's
Waldorf Astoria. These portraits were not finished at the first
sitting, and Volpe's next session with the Beatles took place
in Las Vegas after their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan
Show. It was after the Las Vegas sitting that the paintings were
completed by the artist. Capitol Records published these paintings
in the form of posters which were included in one of the first
Beatles albums ever produced.
Nicholas Volpe autographed
this photograph of himself with his paintings for the current
owner of the foursome.
The current owner of the paintings resides in southern California,
and has a plaque that reads: "These original paintings of
the Beatles are the work of Nicholas Volpe, world renowned artist,
who was commissioned to paint such great personalities as John
F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Frank Sinatra."
On the morning of December 8, 1980, the day that John Lennon
would be assassinated by Mark David Chapman, the painting of
John Lennon inexplicably fell from the wall and landed on the
floor. The artist himself, Nicholas Volpe, repaired the painting
Son of an Italian immigrant family, Nicholas Volpe was born
in the New England community of New Haven, Connecticut. Because
he showed an exceptional talent with the violin, his parents
sent him to studyin Italy. Homesick for America, he soon returned
to continue his formal education.
Mr. Volpe entered New York's Syracuse University on a football
scholarship. There his talent as an artist began to blossom.
Rather than accept a Syracuse professorship upon graduation,
he considered he had much more to learn. He entered and won the
coveted Tiffany Foundation Art Scholarship Award for which thousands
compete and only six are victorious. As part of the award, Mr.
Volpe moved to the famed silversmith's baronial estate on Long
Island to pursue his artwork in seclusion among the varied resplendent
land and seascapes.
Flourishing in all media of his work, Mr. Volpe eventually became
an instructor of fine arts at New York City's Leonardo Da Vinci
Art School where he transported his ideas and conceptions of
depth and creative interpretation to enthusiastic students there.
Two years later Mr. Volpe accepted the post of Dean of Arts at
Jacksonville College in Florida. This lasted three years until
he migrated to Hollywood where he had been commissioned to design
sets, create makeup and fashion costumes for many motion pictures.
But it was Nicholas Volpe's powerful portraits of that industry's
leading personalities which formed an unassailable reputation
for this dedicated artist. Among many others, he painted Clark
Gable, Tyrone Power, Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn,
Frederic March, Bing Crosby, Jennifer Jones.
When Mr. Volpe received a lifetime contract by the Academy of
Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to execute portraits each year
of the actor and actress awarded that institution's Academy Award
("Oscar"), he made southern California his home where
he would raise three children.
Mr. Volpe was awarded the record industry's Golden Grammy Award
for the cover he designed for the Frank Sinatra album, "Only
the Lonely". This led to a commission from the Hollywood
Brown Derby to paint nearly 200 of the nation's top recording
artists for its Hall of Fame Record Room.
As a former athlete himself, Mr. Volpe possesses the gift to
capture, on canvas, the physical drive frozen in action of a
myriad of the world's leading sports figures. In conjunction
with his sports figures' portraits, Mr. Volpe conducted numerous
cross-country tours of television, radio and live personal appearances.
A poet and author of note, Mr. Volpe was well know for his "Byways",
a Hearst syndicated newspaper feature series, where he sketched
and wrote about places of interest in the State of California.
During his distinguished career, Mr. Volpe completed portrait
commissions of the late President John F. Kennedy, British Prime
Minister Winston Churchill, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, President
Ronald Reagan, and traveled to Israel to create a historic oil
portrait of the Israeli Premier of that time, David Ben Gurion.
Nicholas Volpe passed away in 1992.