In 1948, as a young artist, Sirio Tonelli won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, and traveled from his hometown of Sarzana, Italy, a small town between Genoa and Florence. After completing his studies he was hired by a German company to paint frescos in catholic churches around the midwest United States and he 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 was appointed Archon of the Orthodox Christian Church by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. 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 of the United States commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch 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.