Published: December 24, 2001
By Carol Sims
RIEGELSVILLE, N.J. – On November 29 Pauline Campanelli died of complications from childhood polio. Although she walked with crutches most of her life, and spent her last years in a wheelchair, this did not stop her from living an incredibly full life. Artist, writer, craftsperson, gardener, and antiques collector, she pursued her interests with dedication and enthusiasm. She and her husband Dan Campanelli were married in 1969 and shared many of these interests together.
Most people knew Campanelli “the artist” from her prints. Considered the top selling artist in print, her “Rose Berries” image alone is approaching one million copies sold, and was issued in three different sizes, near life size, and two smaller versions. About 40 images by Pauline Campanelli have been issued as prints.
Campanelli worked in oil paint on canvas or linen, and produced six paintings a year for about the last ten years according to her husband Dan Campanelli, who is a watercolorist, also known for his prints. Prior to about 1990, Pauline painted about 20 paintings a year, but this proved to be too hectic a pace. All of her paintings were painted life size with meticulous attention to detail. If she painted a still life of an antique chair, some pewter on a table etc. that would be a very large piece. “It would take her a month to finish something like that,” said her husband.
Typically the two would be up at 6 am, eat, and then get to work. Using only natural north light, she shunned electric lights for painting. “If it was a cloudy day she didn’t paint,” said Dan. “She would work from sunup for about two hours.”
“There are no more paintings by Pauline Campanelli,” said Dan, who reported that people were lining up to buy the last available gallery painting after her death. His own collection of her work includes only three pieces, one of which he had to retrieve from a nearly consummated sale. “Paintings sold as fast as she produced them.”
New York Graphics Society, Norwalk, Conn., published her artwork in limited and open editions. Owners Richard and Julie Fleischmann selected an image from both artists (Pauline and Dan) twice a year, for a total of two pieces from each of them every year for the past 20 years. Pauline and Dan’s print sales are approaching two million prints total.
“We became extremely friendly over the years. She was a truly blessed woman – blessed with talent and her relationships with her husband and her friends,” said Julie Fleischmann. “There was something quintessentially American about her work that appealed to everyone,” she continued.
An avid gardener, Campanelli kept an orchard, herb garden, wild flower garden and vegetable garden on the property of their restored stone colonial in the Delaware Valley. She also kept a dye garden to grow indigo and other plants used by her to dye homespun wool sheared from four sheep that were part of the couple’s colonial-inspired lifestyle. Campanelli became an expert in needlework and embroidery. A dog and several chickens rounded out the picture. Part of the house is a rebuilt circa 1773 log cabin that was originally owned by Edward Hunt. (When George Washington’s troops were wintering 1778/79 in nearby Middlebrook, N.J., Hunt cared for 50 Calvary horses and returned them all the following spring, fit and ready for duty.)
The Campenelli’s colonial is filled with Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century antiques collected over the years. Antiques dealers from far and wide knew the couple as collectors of pewter, redware, crockery and other antiques. The two wrote over 40 articles and specialty books about antiques. L.W. Books, Gas City, Ind., published their antiques books about holidays, including books on Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. These price guides were typically illustrated with photographs Dan took of the couple’s own collections.
In addition to writing about antiques, Pauline had works published on early ancient religions, and the two wrote a book about their art in The Art of Pauline and Dan Campanelli, published by New York Graphic Society. This book sold out of its first and only edition.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm