All are invited to meet Emanuele Fontanini of the Fontanini family famous for their stunning Italian nativities and collectible pieces from 2-4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at St. Mary’s Bookstore.
“It’s a beautiful thing for us to have come to know the Fontanini family in hosting them for these special personal appearance tours. We have a special connection with them as we are also now in our third generation family business,” explains Jean Dortch, owner of St. Mary’s Bookstore. “We are always so happy to host members of the Fontanini family and also to be able to explain to customers about how their pieces are hand-painted in Italy and really nicely done. They come out with new pieces each year and each piece has a story about how they are connected to the birth of Christ because that is what it is truly all about!” Exclusive tour pieces will be for sale during the event.
The family patriarch and company founder, Emanuele Fontanini, embarked on his career of figurine crafting in 1893 as a talented 13-year-old apprentice to an artist in Bagni di Lucca, an area of Tuscany known for its great arts and crafts. He launched his company in 1908, using money earned from the sale of his wares throughout the continent.
Working with the finest painters and sculptors in Tuscany, Fontanini began crafting figures and decorations of heirloom quality in a single room shop. In time, Fontanini gained recognition and acclaim for its work and Emanuele Fontanini’s sons Ugo, Mario and Aldo joined him in the business.
As the family earned acclaim for fine masterpieces, the Fontaninis expanded into creating a broader selection of fine nativities and Mario took on the leadership role at Fontanini in 1936. Later, Mario’s sons Ugo, Mariano and Piero became the third generation to head up the rapidly growing enterprise.
Founder and family patriarch Emanuele died in 1977 at the age of 97 with Fontanini well established and ready for continued growth. Although no longer housed in the cherished room used by Emanuele in the early 1900’s, Fontanini continues to operate in the village of its founding. Today, the namesake of his great grandfather, Emanuele, along with his brother, Stefano, have assumed the leadership roles in the family business.