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Pope Francis Portrait Commissioned to American Master Artist, Igor Babailov, Hon. RAA

Pope Francis Portrait Commissioned to American Master Artist, Igor Babailov, Hon. RAA

NASHVILLE, April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ Igor Babailov, Hon. RAA, Vatican Papal artist of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, has just returned from Rome to paint his official portrait of Pope Francis for the Vatican, and will have painted three Popes, one of whom is now a Saint. Official arrangements were made for the artist to go to the Vatican where he drew sketches of Pope Francis from life, met him and received his blessing. His Vatican portraits are officially commissioned and privately sponsored by distinguished art patrons and friends of the Vatican and hang in the Vatican Museums.

Igor Babailov, Hon. RAA, is a world-renowned master of painting and drawing and acknowledged by the Vatican Curator as "Maestro". Academician of the Russian Academy of Art (est. 1757), his officially commissioned portraits include Presidents, PM's, Royalty, Popes, celebrities, and Fortune 500 CEOs. His works are in important museums and collections including the Vatican Museum, Mount Vernon Museum, Presidential Libraries, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Kremlin, West Point Museum, and other prestigious collections. According to Babailov, "Artist" is a profession given by God to represent creation in its beauty and glory and without alterations."

Igor Babailov's portrait of Saint John Paul II hangs in the Vatican in Castelgandolfo and his portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs in the Vatican in Rome. In 2010, Babailov's portrait of Pope Benedict XVI was selected by the Pope to represent His Papacy, in the Vatican Splendors Museum Tour. He was the only living artist in the exhibit deemed worthy to hang alongside of the works of Michelangelo, Bernini, Giotto and other Renaissance masters.

A child prodigy, the artist painted his first portrait at the age of four. According to EWTN Rome News Bureau Chief, Joan Lewis, "Most of us cannot even spell the word portrait at the age of four, and Babailov already painted one." The artist began his fine art education at the age of nine, studying with the top academics in his field and received an MFA and PhD equivalent. Through his historic lineage, he is a third generation direct-descendent student of great masters of portraiture, Repin and Serov. He has painted more than 2,000 works of art and is a scholar, author and an advocate for human rights especially children. He is recipient of numerous distinguished awards including the Pontifical Medal of John Paul II, The U.S. Military Commander's Medal for Excellence, the Order 'Service to Art' of the International Academy of Culture and Art.

According to Babailov. "It is a major responsibility to paint the legacy portrait of a Pope, a public painting to be seen by future generations. It is a visual history and a celebration of life. It must communicate the Pope's personality, challenges and achievements, and be the most accurate portrayal of how he looked at his very best. The placement of hands, "a portrait within a portrait" reveals the true skill of a great artist to paint them in a natural position with anatomical accuracy; incorporating symbolic references and their factual accuracy based on intensive research of primary sources. It takes years of study, skill, experience of working from life, prayer and enlightenment. The Papal portrait must communicate a story in the most positive and inspiring way.

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