Monica Cardarelli of Laocoon Gallery.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

1 How did you get your start?

My career as an art historian and dealer came about through a serendipity I can describe in three words: Marco Fabio Apolloni. He is a writer, art historian and antiquarian, as well as my husband and co-founder of Laocoon Gallery in Rome and London.

I also studied at the University of Rome La Sapienza in history of art and completed a postgraduate specialisation in 20th century art at the University of Florence.

2 What was key to your understanding of the art business?

Participating with the gallery in all art fairs, even the less important ones, around Italy and abroad. It was in the midst of people who arrived at our stand, either completely unaware or very well prepared on the paintings, drawings or sculptures on offer, that I realised that I had transitioned from being an ‘ugly duckling’ into a white duckling (never a swan, they are far too big).

According to my husband I was born to be a dealer – his actual words were that I could sell milk to cows – but I never, ever imagined being able to buy and sell works of art.

3 What do you collect personally?

I try to collect a piece by each artist for every exhibition that I organise about them. Ancient botanic illustrations in my house in the country, and still-life paintings in the kitchen.

4 What is one great discovery you’ve made?

A number of frescoes by neoclassical Florentine painter Luigi Sabatelli (1772-1850), which are brought together in my book on the artist, currently in publication. The artist was the subject of my thesis at university.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Real espresso – I’m a poor drinker!

If you would like to be featured in 5 Questions, please contact