Maria Teresa Meloni (b. 1978)
The Italian-born Meloni displays the kind of dazzling artistry associated with 16th-century Florence rather than Manhattan’s 21st-century SoHo, where she lives and paints.
With a melodic voice that hits the high notes when serenading sitters, Meloni works like an alchemist, mixing her own primer—a concoction of rabbit-skin glue, marble dust, and crushed eggshells. There is greatness in the way she harnesses light and emotion, turning her portrait work into museum-caliber paintings, drawings, and photographs.
An admirer of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Meloni similarly attracts grand patrons: Johnson & Johnson heiress Libet Johnson, banking heir Matthew Mellon, and the Earl and Countess Albemarle (Rufus and Sally), among others. “We like to be immortalized,” coos Meloni, who even designs the old-world linen-and-silk smocks that sitters wear.
Meloni’s tender, intimate family photograph above was commissioned by 26th-generation winemaker Alessia Antinori.