Art Imitates Nature: The Intricate Work of Capodimonte
Story and Photo by Ann Efimetz, The Virginia Gazette
People often pick up a Capodimonte flower created by Gaetano “Nino” Galoppo and are surprised to discover it isn’t real. “People like the fact that the flowers look so lifelike,” he said. “I have had some people pick them up and smell them thinking they were real. The most gratifying aspect is the incredulity in the eyes of the people who see my work for the first time, not believing that what they have in front of them came from a shapeless slab of clay.” Galoppo is a Master Italian Capodimonte Floral Sculptor. He has created thousands of works by hand, each with painstaking detail and care.
At age 11, Galoppo started going to a porcelain factory in his native Italy and began playing around with clay learning how to make flowers. “I found out that I had a calling for this type of craft only after my friend’s father pushed me to try it out. He used to say I had “the passion in the hands.” Galoppo stayed with him in his factory until he was 17, when he began moving around, working in different porcelain factories to learn the different techniques that other artists used.
“When I was young and worked in the different Capodimonte factories, I never realized the importance of this art form due to my young age, and to the fact that at the time Naples was full of similar artists,” he said. “For me, this craft was only a passion. It was when I first arrived in the United States that I started to appreciate this as a form of art.” Galoppo came to the United States in 1985 and worked at Busch Gardens “The Old Country” in Williamsburg, Virginia for 18 years where he shared this art form with visitors to the theme park.
Galoppo said the process he uses to make the flowers is fairly simple. “With 40 years of experience at my back, I have learned to imitate nature and create the forms of the flowers with just a piece of clay,” he said. “Then my painter, either my wife Rosa or Master Painter Elizabeth Damato, give life to the flowers by painting them.” Galoppo enjoys sharing his talent with others; it makes him excited about continuing his art.
“I have had so many compliments on my work over the years; that’s the main reason why I love to be a Capodimonte artist,” he said. “I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I get at the completion of a specific piece. I make these pieces out of shapeless slabs of clay. I mold them with my hands into a flower and then a fellow artist paints them and helps give them life.”
Nino Rose Capodimonte is located at 1208-C Jamestown Road in Williamsburg, Virginia. Mr. Nino Galoppo may be reached at (757) 753-5729 by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org