In 1948, as a young artist, Sirio Tonelli won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, and traveled from his hometown of Sarzana on the bearer of Tuscany and Liguria regions. After completing his studies he was hired by a German company to paint frescos in catholic churches around the midwest United States and settled in Omaha, NE. Soon thereafter, Tonelli Studios Inc. was formed in Omaha, NE and the young artist began an intense period of creating artwork for Catholic Churches around the United States. In the late 1950s Sirio Tonelli was awarded the Maltese Cross by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
By 1960 Mr. Tonelli began expanding his repertoire to the Byzantine style, primarily for the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the early 1970s, Mr. Tonelli became an Archon, one of the highest honors in the Greek Orthodox church, at the behest of Archbishop Iacovos, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of North & South America. In the 1970s his notoriety grew and he was commissioned to create artwork at many of the largest and most important Greek Orthodox Cathedrals and churches in the United States. In the 1980s he was asked to design the Congressional Medal of Honor for the United States government commemorating the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church on his visit to the United States. In the 1990s he received an honorary doctorate degree from Georgia State University and he was commissioned to create a mosaic to commemorate the History of Medical Science at Emory University Medical School.
Mr. Tonelli has achieved many milestones in his life’s work, including creating the largest Byzantine mosaic in the world in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Atlanta. Today, Sirio Tonelli is widely recognized as one of the greatest Byzantine artists of our time and one of the most talented classical artists alive today.