Innocenzo Daraio
(1903 – 1993)

Painter, muralist. Born in Potenza, Italy on April 26, 1903. Daraio began art studies in Italy and in New York City at the Mechanics’ Institute before settling in Los Angeles about 1925. He was active in the local art scene into the 1960s. He died in Palm Springs, California on August 18, 1993. His work includes landscapes, decorative murals and portraits.

By Marge Warshaw in The Desert Sun on Tuesday, August 24, 1993:

“When California Artist Innocenzo Daraio died Wednesday at age 90 at his remote desert home, he left a legacy of art in churches and other buildings throughout the state. The Italian-born muralist’s parents immigrated to Brooklyn, NY, in 1911 when he was 8 years old. One of 10 children, he worked late
at night delivering telegrams to be able to spend his days learning to be an artist. He spent five years learning to draw in charcoal and pencil before ever
touching a paint brush. He became the protégé of internationally known muralist John B. Smeraldi, who brought Daraio to California with him to decorate such famous buildings at the Biltmore Hotel, the old Victor Hugo Restaurant and St. Paul’s Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Daraio did most of the Biltmore’s ornate ceilings himself and later, when Smeraldi died, completed the work at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Later, he moved into work in the motion picture industry and worked in Hollywood as a scenic artist for 22 years, painting backdrops and scenics for 20th Century Fox. He painted backgrounds for such cinematic epics as the original “The Ten Commandments,” “Marco Polo” and “Cleopatra.” Daraio’s first studio job came when A. H. Giannini, founder of the Bank of Italy, introduced him to movie mogul Sam Goldwyn. At the time he met Goldwyn, Daraio was completing huge Pompeiian and Renaissance murals in the banker’s Holmby Hills mansion. He painted the rooms one at a time – a job that kept him occupied for six years at the Giannini home. Among his
church works are murals at the St. Nicholas Christian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, the Temple of Israel, the Old Mission Plaza Church in Los Angeles, St. Anne’s Hospital’s Chapel, Queen of Angels Hospital and the St. Syrian Orthodox Greek Church in San Diego.

At the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Fresno, his mural of Moses and the 10 Commandments – which he completed at age 77 – is 30 feet high and 24 feet wide. The figure of Moses alone stands 9 feet high. He leaves behind not only his religious art and work in the film industry, but also numerous portraits and award-winning landscapes.”

Image courtesy

Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California 1786 – 1940

Artists of the Southwest
California Art Club (President, June 1949 – May 1951)
Laguna Beach Art Association
Painters and Sculptors of Los Angeles
San Fernando Art Guild