Marco Ventura’s ‘Old World’ Stamp Illustrations

I spent Labor Day weekend at BALPEX. One highpoint was a display of illustrator Marco Ventura’s (1963- ) work for the Vatican Ufficio Filatelico e Numismatico (Ufn). The Vatican Philatelic Society displayed a multi-panel exhibit of Ventura’s preliminary artwork for several stamps including the composers series—in 2010 stamps marking the birth bicentenary of Schumann and
Chopin and in 2011 the birth bicentenary of Mahler and Liszt.
The essays showed the always-fascinating creative development process, and the artistic unfolding of the Mahler issue in particular drew my attention because the stamp’s profile portrait seems to float above the stamp background.
The display led me to learn more about Ventura who comes from a family of artists. He and his two brothers worked in his father’s studio, and Marco’s training included studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Brera in Milan and a year at the school of Visual Arts in New York.
His illustration process is ‘old world:’ rough sketches are refined until he is satisfied
with the image. He transfers the finished sketch to gesso-coated paper, wood panel or occasionally canvas, as an underpainting, followed by painting in oils and finishing with glazes.
Ventura’s clients are mostly from Europe and the U.S. And in the words of Kenneth Smith, former art director of Time magazine, Ventua  “is a maestro”—a fitting tribute to the illustrator of these composer stamps.
Look closely at Ventura’s stamps for the Vatican, Royal Mail and San Marino and consider his words, “I find it visually intriguing to represent modern and contemporary themes dipped in traditional Renaissance-style technique.”
To learn more about the stamps of the Vatican, check out the Vatican Philatelic Society and/or the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of Vatican City (Ufn).