Raised in Fort Myers, Florida, Prosperi began drawing at age five, when he became engrossed by artist John Gnagy’s television series of the 1950s, Learn to Draw. Later the artist spent every Saturday at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. When Prosperi turned eighteen, he sold the family home, packed his mother and brother into their Volkswagen bus and headed for Boston, hoping to become an artist.
To support his family, Prosperi became head decorator for Filene’s department store in Belmont, Massachusetts, and worked other odd jobs. He spent two years studying and copying the old masters at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Prosperi’s fortune changed when a friend showed his portfolio to the Harvard continuing education department, which hired him to teach classical drawings from plaster casts. Soon many of his students began studying with him privately at his studio, drawing live models.
Prosperi gradually established his reputation as a portrait painter with commissions from Massachusetts General Hospital. His subjects have included Massachusetts Senate president William Bulger; Adele Simmons, president of the MacArthur Foundation; and Vargan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Institute. He has painted six murals for the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, depicting the center’s history; and two murals for the lobby of Rhode Island Hospital. In addition, he and his wife have painted English and Italian landscapes and Parisian and Venetian cityscapes, as well as a work depicting the first casualty of the Battle of Bunker Hill.
His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut; Boston Symphony Hall; and additional galleries in Washington, New York, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.