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Senior Discovers Niche in Madrid’s Art World

04/25/2019

While pursuing his passion for religious art as a college student, Saint Louis University senior Nick Di Napoli has found his niche in the Spanish art world, working as a researcher and an independent art consultant even before earning his college degree.

Nick Di Napoli

As a high school student in California, senior Nick Di Napoli (left) developed an interest in religious art through his exposure to Latin, philosophy, theology and monastic life. When he began his college career, he was already inspired to pursue a major in art history.  He's turned his studies into a new career. SLU-Madrid photo

Di Napoli, an art history and international business student, at SLU-Madrid, will graduate in May. His work helps him connect Spanish art collectors and artisans with specialty markets in the United States.

Recently, he’s been working with an Andalusian artist to design a statue that is being molded for a Heritage Design Group commission in California.

“I have come to understand art as a quest for beauty, a vital element found in every civilization throughout history,” Di Napoli said. “Studying it reveals to us priceless information about our collective human experience and compels us to realize that our world is full of meaning and purpose.”

A Path from Passion to Profession

As a high school student in California, Di Napoli developed an interest in religious art through his exposure to Latin, philosophy, theology and monastic life. When he began his freshman year at SLU in St. Louis, he was already inspired to pursue a major in art history.

His first foray into the international sphere came during his sophomore year, which he spent abroad in Bologna, Italy, studying the Italian Renaissance. At the end of his year in Italy, Di Napoli decided to continue his SLU degree at the Madrid campus.

While in Spain, he discovered his passion for Baroque art of the country’s Golden Age. During his junior year, he was invited back to SLU in St. Louis to present his research paper “The Jesuit Influence on Baroque Architecture,” at the Third Annual Jesuit Research Symposium.  

During his time in Madrid, Di Napoli has acquired work experience in various fields of the art industry. His first internship was working at the Museo del Prado with Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado. As part of the internship, he assisted special donors on exclusive tours of the collection and attended to inquiries from museum visitors at the information desk.

Mentors Open the Door to Working with the Masterpieces

Thanks to the help of his SLU-Madrid professors Fabiola Martinez, Ph.D., and Curra Vericat, Di Napoli met the owners of one of the most extensive private collections in the city, Colección Granados. As an intern with the collection, Di Napoli had exclusive access to research and catalog masterpieces by artists such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Jusepe de Ribera, Juan de Valdés Leal, and Francisco de Zurbarán.

Di Napoli’s senior research paper on one of the collection’s paintings, El Cristo de Perdón by Francisco Camilo, was recently selected for presentation at an undergraduate research symposium co-hosted by SLU and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

I have come to understand art as a quest for beauty, a vital element found in every civilization throughout history. Studying it reveals to us priceless information about our collective human experience and compels us to realize that our world is full of meaning and purpose."

Senior Nick Di Napoli

While working toward his degree, Di Napoli has combined his art experience with his passion for international business as an international sales associate with Heritage Liturgical, a design firm in California that works with liturgical art, such as chapels, vestments and statues. As part of this work, and due to his overseas location, he assists Heritage by sourcing and importing Spanish art to the United States, collaborating primarily with Andalusian statue artisans called imagineros.

Looking Ahead to a Creative Career

Following graduation, Di Napoli has considered pursuing a career in the art business field, such as museum management or in the auction house industry, but is leaning heavily toward entering the business world as a management consultant. He credits his SLU and SLU-Madrid courses and experiences with shaping his future path, whether in the business or art worlds.

“It’s helped me enhance my research and communication skills while becoming both critical and creative,” Di Napoli said. “I’ve learned how to form strong convictions supported by sound reasoning, but most importantly, it’s allowed me to master communicating complex and abstract thought in succinct written form.”

In the lead up to graduation, SLU is sharing some of the stories of its graduating seniors as they look back on their college experience and ahead toward their next steps.

Story by Katie Gortz, SLU-Madrid Marketing