Article first appeared on Saluki International issue 12 - Spring/Summer 2000



Stefania Nardicchi

Paola Marinangeli has always had, since she was a child, a passion for drawing, art, dogs, and horses, so that it has become natural for her to combine her "darlings" into one focus and devote most of her free time to the study of dog and horse representations in the History of Art, and to choose such subjects as principal themes for her paintings.


Mrs. Marinangeli, could you please explain to us why we find Arabian horses and Sighthounds more frequently in your work?

I would simply say, for their beauty and the harmony of their forms, which express power, grace and elegance.

Moreover, because their history is rooted in the beginning of time, and ever since their dawning the most ancient civilisations have known horses and dogs similar in every detail to the Arabian horses and the Sighthounds we know today. They have shared the honours and glory of peace, and the desolation and death of war, with their Man Companions, the ones who would become their masters.

There are charismatic magnetism and glamour deep in their eyes, full of fire and sweetness which captures your gaze, so that it becomes impossible to try and fly away, and thus your heart is taken!

In your work we detect a great characterisation of the subjects represented, above all in their naturalness or pose. How much study is hidden behind such great simplicity?

For one who is involved in Art, both Arabian horses and Sighthounds are a complex challenge, a task more demanding than that of representing any other animal.

Their general construction, the expression of their eyes, every detail has something particular and different from any other horse or dog breed.

It is easy to fall into a caricature of the sighthoundis elongated muzzles or protruding thorax, or of the slightly hollow profile, and large dilated nostrils, which are typical of the Arabian horse.

Every drawing, every single painting, requires a detailed study of the subject in order to catch their very expression, because, as it is with human beings, every single individual is different from another.

Every one has his own peculiarities and his own character, and this is reflected by the very expression of their eyes.



Have you ever owned a Sighthound or an Arabian horse?

I have painted many dogs of different breeds, but since five years ago I have endeavour to devote myself to the Sighthounds, because a Sighthound entered my life exactly five years ago.

It is an Italian Sighthound, an elfish black creature, full of life, character, and sweetness. I love all the Sighthound breeds without any prejudice, but I have a special love for all those whose origin is mostly linked to the history of the Arabian horses, namely the Sloughis, the Salukis, and the Azawakhs.

As far as the Arabian horse is concemed, in the last three years I have had the honour and satisfaction of portraying many famous champions and important studs, both in ltaly and abroad.

Some of my portraits are in the United States, in Germany, in Poland, and in Egypt. Moreover, I have worked for the A.N.I.C.A (the association of Arabian Horse Breeders) and some of my paintings have been used as trophies on occasion of Italian Championships. As far as the United States is concemed, I have presented for the last two years one of my paintings for what is considered to be one of the most important world events linked to the Arabian horse, namely the 'Egyptian Event', organised by the Pyramid Society of Kentucky. On the occasion of such an event, many conferences and demonstrations take place, and an Art auction is held which has the Arabian horse as its main theme.

During the Egyptian Event, the largest Saluki Show in the world is also organised, and that is why this year I sent to the Show a painting representing an Arabian horse and a Saluki; so as to witness the deep cultural and geographical origins which bind and link these gorgeous animals, and as a token of my profound admiration for them. I gave my painting the title, “Jewels of the Desert”. I definitely believe that Sighthounds and Arabian horses are such riches.

Which aspect of your work do you believe to be the most gratifying for an artist?

I prefer to paint portraits, and this is the type of work which gives me the highest satisfaction. Of course, it is more difficult to paint a portrait of a dog or a horse than it is to imagine a fantastic subject.

In order to portray a subject, I start from a photo or, when available, from a video tape, as it is not very easy to pose an animal live. My greatest satisfaction comes from my customers, when they say I have been able to

catch the particular expression of their dog or horse, and not only their physical fearure’s or colour.

Recently, a German friend for whom I had already painted some Arabian horses commissioned me to portray his rough-coated Dachshund, and sent me some photos, common photos taken by auto focus, in no way professional quality. Of course, I had never met his Dachshund in person before, and I had to work hard because of the qualità of the photos. I was a bit nervous when I sent the buyer the finished work, though it might have been perfect from a technical point of view, and even the expression of the gaze seemed to me very good: both sweet and shrewd at the same moment.

The comment I received was: "How could you catch the exact expression of Tommy? The very one which made us fall in love with him and to choose him among many others?" These kind words are my greatest satisfaction, and my highest prize for the passion and engagement I put into my paintings.

Which techniques do you use in your paintings?

As far as the different techniques are concerned (pastels, water colours, charcoal), they all suit such beautiful subjects, but I definitely prefer oil painting, particularly on special paper called TELATO, which offers me the opportunity to exploit the brightness and the preciousness of oil colours, combined with the ease of use and freshness given by the paper itself.



Do you have a dream to reaIize?

One of my greatest desires is to own an Arabian horse and to experience life with other Sighthound breeds.

I would love to have plenty of time to paint them (at the moment my work does not allow too much!). Waiting for my dreams to come true, I carry on by losing myself in the sweet and mysterious eyes of such beautiful creatures, standing spell-bound while admiring their light movement, their elegant gait, and their wild gallop, half-suspended from earth, as if held aloft by invisible wings and by their great heart.

I wholehearledly wish to thank Mrs. Paola Marinangeli for having granted me this interesting interview, by which I have been able lo learn, know more about, and best appreciate, her excellent work.