Valentino Monticello is a talented artist ,working in an area influenced by three major forces; Opera; Wine and Art. He does not paint any of his figures or scenes, they are all cut out from wine labels.Each work is an unique wine label collage.

Self Portrait
A Wine Label Collage by Valentino Monticello

For many years Valentino worked as a Sommelier yet in his heart he remained an artist. He has an enviable, natural sense of line, colour and perspective. He also has a passion for Opera, with an excellent grasp of the scores and libretti. Click to return to Homepage

Part One - Valentino - The Sommelier

In some ways Valentino was born into his profession. His family ran a hotel near Vicenza, in the North East of Italy and he was brought up with food and wine in his blood. It was very natural then, when he moved to London in the 1950's,to obtain work as a Sommelier. In fact he found work at Club 21 in London.

While working at Club 21 he was exposed to wines from all over the world and at the highest level from Bordeaux and Burgundy in particular; it also gave him a lasting love of Chateau d'Yquem. In the mid 1980's he was promoted to Head Sommelier at the prestigious "Harry's Bar" in London; a private members' dining club,with arguably the best Italian cuisine in the Capital. Click to return to Homepage

Part Two - Valentino - The Artist

Although a Sommelier by profession, Valentino is an artist by temperament and inclination. Often he would find himself at the end of a hard stint at the Club, longing for the peace of his studio. Once there he would work throughout the night, painting or drawing. He needed to have an outlet for creative energies and although only for private consumption, his work rate was prodigious.

His first public commission was unusual to say the least! He was invited to use his artistic talents to create a mural in an old people's home. Of course he could have painted it but instead he chose to do a collage using the most obvious tools of his trade - wine labels. By cutting out and an arranging the labels in incredible detail he created a a fascinating scene which brightened up the lives of all the residents. It also got Valentino thinking that perhaps his talents could best be employed on this type of art form rather than painting or drawing. Click to return to Homepage.

"All of my pictures are composed of shapes carefully cut from wine labels; the people, the flowers, even the lines, are all cut from different wine labels. There is no drawing or painting involved at all".

Part three - Valentino - The Opera Lover

Valentino's knowledge of Opera is outstanding on several levels; he knows the performers and their performances; he knows the score and the libretti in detail (his Italian roots help here) and he knows the myths and the legends that surround the Opera. Speaking to him, you find the whole work coming to life as you begin to understand the symbolism and interaction of the characters portrayed. Click to return to Homepage

The Publication of his book - Opera & Wine - Wine & Opera

From the mid 1980's Valentino focussed his professional metier, his talents and his enthusiasm and set himself the ambitious task of producing a book. This book would take many years to be published; and would have the title "Opera & Wine - Wine in Opera". It would finally see critical acclaim at its launch party at The National Gallery in London in 2002. Click to return to Homepage

Valentino carefully looked through many different Opera scores to find references relating to wine. Once he found a specific scene, he would illustrate it using wine labels from the country where the Opera was set. For example "La Boheme" by Giacomo Puccini uses only French wine labels. Other Operas are specific to wine regions for example Il viaggio a Reims by Gioachino Rossini features only Burgundy Wine Labels. In all, for the collection of the book Valentino created 74 separate images.

Each image in the book is accompanied by the libretto which is relevant to the scene in the Opera. His good friend Luciano Citeroni has written a succinct summary of each of the Operas. In addition at the back of the book, is an explanation of each of the wine areas that is mentioned, and in each Opera. So, for those who want to explore the wines of a particular region there is plenty of material here to look at. Click to return to Homepage

What next? Exhibitions, Original Pictures and Limited Edition Prints

Valentino's work was featured at the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London in the early 1990's. More of his work was exhibited in London at Christie's the auction house. A show in a private London art gallery in 1992 sold out some 40 works within hours. However, despite the demand for his works, Valentino kept almost all of the collages in the opera series, and did not sell them, in order to realise his dream of launching his book accompanied by his original pictures at the National Gallery in 2002.

Today, his works are found all over the world, primarily in the hands of wealthy collectors who share his interest in wine, opera and art. A collection of Valentino's work entitled "The Life of Bacchus" can be seen at the il Molino di Grace ( vineyard in Chianti. Other works have homes in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Kansas City as well as London and Tokyo. The City of Wine, Vinopolis, has now got a selection of his original work on display. Click to return to Homepage

Owning the work of Valentino Monticello

They are in short supply and the demand is high but owning a work by Valentino Monticello is entirely possible.

We have a finite number of original pictures to offer, as well as select releases of signed limited edition prints and regular prints. If you want to find out more about obtaining a work by Valentino Monticello please see the contact details or click on the link below.

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