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Natalia Tsarkova is a mysterious painter and not so much known in her homeland, Russia. She found her place under the sun in Rome. She is the first woman to receive the title of an official portraitist of the Pope, and when you consider that she was Orthodox , the degree of respect provided by the Vatican towards the Russian artist truly has no boundaries .
She never had any problems for not being Catholic because it did not affect the way she was considered and respected in her art. Moreover, as mentioned on a few occasions, she always felt art as the binding element that was missing in the relationship between the confessions and expressed such consideration in her activity.
She was born in 1967 in Moscow. She studied at the Krasnopresnenska ya Art School; then in the Academic Lyceum of Moscow Art. At the same time, she entered the Academy of Iliya Glazunov and studying the course of Glazunov, was the only woman distinguished herself as the best student in portrait. Currently, since 1994, she lives and works in Rome.
At that time, no one in Italy knew her name, but some paintings she took with her attracted the attention of Italians and immediately dispersed to private collections. Soon orders for portraits of aristocrats, politicians, artists and Italians began to appear. But the real glory in her career occurred after painting two portraits of Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican recognized them as the official pictures of the Pontiff. Thus, the Russian artist Natalia Tsarkova became unique in the world of painting, as had the privilege to paint the portraits of three Popes: John Paul I (ascended the throne in 1978 and died 33 days later); John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Now the artist is working on a portrait of Pope Francisco.
By an amazing coincidence, the Natalia Tsarkova studio is located in one of the "most Russian" quarter of Rome, near Piazza Barberini. A few steps away there is a house in which Gogol lived, when he worked on "Dead Souls". Across the street there was an apartment of Karl Brullov, who painted in Rome "The Last Day of Pompei." Similarly, two other major Russian painters also lived near Barberini: Alexander Ivanov (Russian painter of neoclassicism) and Orestes Kiprensky (Russian portraitist).
The central place of her studio, completely decorated with paintings, is dedicated to work "The Last Supper." Natalia does not want to sell this work, despite numerous offers from museums and private collectors. It is a monumental work, with dimensions of 2.20 x 1.50 cm, which became a milestone in her work.
The painting strikes by unexpected angle and its artistic solution of one of the most famous events in the religious world. A special honor was given to the painting of this Russian artist: its first official "show" was held in the refectory of Santa Maria Della Grazie in Milan, next to the famous work "The Last Supper" of Leonardo da Vinci. The Tsarkova's work was presented for the first time in Rome before the Easter and was blessed by Pope John Paul II as a message of peace.
At the ceremony in Milan, the red fabric was torn off the painting by the artist Tsarkova and the Curator of the Library and the Roman Catholic Church Archives, Cardinal George Maria Mejia, who came specially from Vatican for this. Then he praised the virtues of the painting and watched a spiritual connection between the two authors of the versions of "The Last Supper": from the great Leonardo da Vinci to the Russian woman, Natalia Tsarkova.
In Italy, the painting was called "The Last Supper of the Third Millennium." In the fresco of Leonardo, Christ looks at bread, while the Christ of other painters looks at the sky. In Tsarkova's painting, Christ turned and looks at the world with a sad look, reproachfully, but at the same time with love, understanding. He looks at each of us! Into our souls!
In the left corner of the painting Tsarkova portrayed herself as a maid, looking through the open door. This is incompatible with the traditional canons of "Supper" but thus she wanted emphasize the connection with today's reality. This is the view from the third millennium.
Natalia painted her Italian friends as the apostles. For example, the person posing the Christ is Peppi Morja, light-designer. It was him who created the lighting for the Trevi Fountain and the domes of St. Peter Basilica. Judas is the designer of Milano fashion, Gillermo Mariotto; Roman brilliant lawyer Vittore Cordella whose noble profile and head with gray hair present St. Andrew. St. John was represented by Count Andrea Marini. Philip - from professor of architecture, the Earl Dario del Bufalo. The models for the Simon images, Thaddeus and Thomas were, respectively, the Grand Prior of the Order of Malta, Franz von Lobshtayn; Count Romano del Forno and Prince Nicolo Borghese.
In 2008, she was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Blessed Father Giacomo from Lebanon. This painting was blessed by the Pope in Vatican and was placed in the church of Santa Maria del Mars in Beirut, where are the relics of the Saint.
As seen, Tsarkova is not just a portraitist, she also paints images of the Saints. Among her known works of this type, very significant place belongs to the portrait of the Italian missionary Beata Assunta Marchetti (Beata Assunta Marchetti, 1871-1948). She contributed to the organization of the foundation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo and carried obedience in Brazil, and was beatified in São Paulo on 25 October 2014. Her portrait hangs in the Cathedral of São Paulo (Catedral da Sé) and the Brazilians revered it as an icon.
Natalia Tsarkova is a multidisciplinar y and versatile artist. On one hand, she paints portraits of Popes and the faces of canonized Saints, and on the other - portraits of heads of state, royal families and biblical subjects. Her paintings bring a special deep energy that leaves no one indifferent. They are a living reflection of the Russian soul, always in search of self-expression and building bridges between the peoples of the world.