Kurt Wenner produced his first commissioned mural at the age of sixteen and by that time he was already earning his living as a graphic artist. After attending both Rhode Island School of Design and Art Center College of Design, he started working for NASA as an advanced scientific illustrator, creating conceptual paintings of future space projects and extraterrestrial landscapes. In 1982 he left NASA, sold all of his belongings, and moved to Italy to study figurative drawing and art of the great artists from the Renaissance. Wenner lived a stone's throw from the Pantheon in the heart of Rome, where he studied the drawings, paintings, and sculptures of the old masters in Rome's best known museums. Over the years Wenner's work became known throughout Italy and in 1991 he was commissioned to create a work of art to honor the visit of Pope John Paul II to the city of Mantua.