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About This Project

RAPHAELLA BEATRICE SPENCE

Born in 1978 in London; lives and works in Todi, Italy.

Spence moves to France with her family when she is only a few months old. She lives in France for  eight years before retuning to London in 1986. It is here that her interest in art begins to emerge. Spence is inevitably influenced by her father’s, Milton Spence, and grandfather’s, the internationally renowned architect, Sir Basil Spence, numerous architectural projects as well as their almost photo real renderings in pencil and watercolor.

At the age of twelve her family decides to move permanently to Todi (Italy) where they buy and restore an old medieval mill in the Umbrian countryside. Spence completes her studies in Rome at the St. George’s British International School.

She begins to paint oil paintings depicting landscapes inspired by views of the Umbrian countryside and focuses above all on perfecting her painting technique which is fundamental for the creation of hyperreal paintings.

A few years later, in 1999, she meets her future husband,  the hyperrealist painter Roberto Bernardi at an exhibition. They begin to work together in their studio in Todi and in that same year Spence has her first solo exhibition in Italy.

In 2003, at the age of twenty-four, she has her first solo show in New York at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, where she will continue to exhibit during the following years.  Spence also participates in the exhibition entitled “Iperrealisti”, her first major museum exhibition at the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome curated by Gianni Mercurio, exhibiting a painting commissioned by the American car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler Group, which represents a PT Cruiser, their latest car on the market.

In 2004, Spence rents a studio in New York on 73rd street together with Roberto Bernardi. Her works are inspired by aerial views of great American cities such as New York, Las Vegas, Miami…

In 2005, she returns to Italy and produces together with her husband and artist Roberto Bernardi twenty large paintings that represent scenes of football fans at stadiums and social scenes, all executed with incredible skill and attention to detail. Some of these works are exhibited at the Musei Capitolini in Rome and donated to the UNHCR, where they are auctioned by Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

In 2007, the two artists create a large oil painting of the German model Nova Meierhenrich standing in front of a painting by artist Caspar David Friedrich at the Hamburg Museum, for a German collector.

From 2003 to 2010, Spence participates, together with the pioneers of the hyperrealism movement, in many art projects funded by American and European collectors, that take place in several cities worldwide. Among the various projects: ”Prague Project” (2003), “Zurich Project” (2007), “Monte Carlo Project” (2008), where Spence paints different aerial views of Monte Carlo during the Formula One Grand Prix, and in that same year participates in the “Beijing Project” where she creates two hyperreal oil paintings of the metropolis during the 2008 Olympic Games, for an important American politician and collector.

The paintings created for these projects by the various hyperrealist artists are exhibited in group exhibitions held at the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery and the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York.

In 2012, Spence participates in an international museum tour that begins at the Kunsthalle Tübingen Museum in Germany,  and travels to 13 other museums, including Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Spain), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (England), New Orleans Museum of Art, (U.S.A.), Oklahoma City Museum of Art (U.S.A.), Museo De Bellas Artes De Bilbao (Spain), Kunsthal Museum Rotterdam (Netherlands), the Tampa Museum of Art (U.S.A.) to name a few.

From 2018 to 2019, Spence takes part in a tour exhibition on hyperrealism which is held at the prestigious CCBB Museums in Brazil, (Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil). The exhibition opens in Sao Paulo (2018), travels to Brasilia (2019) to close at its headquarters (2019-2020). This exhibition is much visited by the Brazilian public, reaching almost a million visitors.

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