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NC artist recreating masterpiece

Eileen JoyceArtist David Newren polishes up one of his silver castings of Michelangelo's Madonna at his Nevada City home Monday.
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A Nevada City artist and businessman is recreating some of the greatest art works ever sculpted.

David Newren, 43, president of New Renaissance Art, has an exclusive license with the Vatican to reproduce sculptures from the Treasury of St. Peter’s, including the “Pieta,” one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.



“David is one of our licensees, and he’s doing a phenomenal project,” said Gerald Colapinto, a Vatican licensing agent based in the Southern California city of Corona.




Newren is reproducing gold, silver and bronze busts of the Madonna, or Virgin Mary from Michelangelo’s famous statue, the “Pieta.” Finished by Michelangelo in 1499, the “Pieta” shows the Virgin Mary holding Christ in her arms.

“It’s a thrill,” Newren said. “I always wanted to be in a business where I wake up excited in the morning, and this is it.”

Newren signed the licensing agreement on May 10, 2000, and then spent 16 months getting more approvals, and permission to use marketing and printed materials. Newren pays an annual royalty fee of $50,000 to $100,000 a year, plus a percentage of the sales price.

The marketing materials have to be given the OK from the Vatican for good taste and morality.

Newren cast his first reproduction, a bronze, and submitted it for Vatican approval a year ago. He sold 14 pieces to friends last year. The bronze reproductions will sell for $15,000, silver versions for $25,000.

He is lining up a network of galleries to sell the reproductions. By year end, he hopes to have as many as 200 galleries.

“We’re just at the point where we can go forward and sell to the public,” Newren said.

By summer, Newren said he expects to sell about 50 pieces a month between the bronze and silver “Pieta” reproductions.

He expects the first of the $1 million gold busts to be poured next month, Feb. 14. That piece already has a buyer. Two more buyers for the next gold pieces are lined up, with discussions on six more. Some buyers are private individuals who want to donate a piece to their local cathedrals.

To recreate the masterpieces, Newren is provided with a resin casting from rubber molds of the statue made decades ago. He hand-finishes the resin figure, making sure there are no flaws in the reproduction. From that, a rubber mold is made to produce wax figures that foundries in Utah and Florida use to cast the reproductions.

Newren travels to the foundries once a month to check the castings. He also applies the patina, or final finish, to the bronze and silver busts.

Newren’s journeys also take him to Rome, where the Vatican is headquartered, to complete a second piece, a miniature version of the “Pieta.”

“It’s a process of comparing, comparing, comparing,” said Newren, who uses full-size castings of the original to compare with his reproductions.

Newren learned the art of casting during a five-month stint at a foundry in Thailand in 1991, where he cast a series of sculptures.

Newren grew up in Provo, Utah, and became interested in art while a high-school student. Unwilling to be a starving artist, he pursued a career in real estate until he become a contemporary art agent and dealer in 1990.

Newren also creates his own sculptures, which he describes as classical idealism rather than in modern art genres.


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