Tag Archives: art Malta

Reunited: Art Expert Prof Sciberras Talks Preti, His Legacy, and the Importance of the Exhibition in Turin.

The recent homecoming of a number of Mattia and Gregorio Preti’s paintings has landmarked the return of the Wignacourt’s enviable Preti collection in its entirety.

The paintings, which were in Turin for five months, formed part of the remarkable exhibition, Il Cavalier Calabrese Mattia Preti tra Caravaggio e Luca Giordano, which was set up to commemorate Mattia Preti’s 400th birthday.

Oriental Man by Gregorio Preti

 We caught up with Professor Keith Sciberras to ask him about the importance of Preti’s legacy to Malta and Maltese art, what makes the Wignacourt’s Pretis special, and just how momentous it was to have a number of the paintings from the Wignacourt’s collection exhibited in Turin.

Mattia Preti plunged Malta directly into the spirit of Baroque art. His manner was triumphant and monumental, and was particularly suited to the imagery required by the knights of Malta,” Professor Sciberras tells us. “The artist gathered around him a large bottega and dominated artistic production in Malta for four decades.  His style imprinted itself on the Maltese baroque tradition.

Mattia Preti

Preti’s pictures of St Peter in Tears and St Peter Blessing at the Wignacourt are wonderful examples of his mid-Maltese period easel works. The artist produced a number of single-figure saints in a close-up rendition typical of the Neapolitan tradition for both the religious and private market,” he continues.


Madonna of Sorrows by Mattia Preti

A small Mater Dolorosa, also by the artist and also found at the Wignacourt, is a rare example of his late period small-scale works. The Wignacourt Museum also houses two paintings, representing the Baptism of Christ and St Publius, on temporary loan display from private collections. They are recent additions to Preti’s oeuvre and were discovered in 2012.

The exhibition in Turin, held at the Reggia La Venaria, showcased 50 paintings by Preti and other major artists of the period. The inclusion of the paintings of the Baptism of Christ and St Publius served to introduce these works to art critics and to the general public. Their participation in the show reflects the Wignacourt Museum’s outreach,” he concludes.

Mattia Preti’s work, along with the work of many other artists and artisans, can be enjoyed at the museum and we invite all art enthusiasts, tourists and anyone else who might be interested to visit the Wignacourt.

For more information on the artworks or the museum you can contact us on +356 2749 4905 or at info@wignacourtmuseum.com

Mattia and Gregorio Preti’s Return

It is a joyful day for art lovers in Malta as two of Wignacourt’s most important pieces have returned home after a short stay in Turin.

Mattia Preti’s St Publius (ca. 1668-1669) and Oriental Man Holding a Pipe and a Glass of Wine (c. 1635-1640) by Mattia’s brother, Gregorio Preti, have now been returned to the Wignacourt after five months in Turin, where they formed part of the dazzling Il Cavalier Calabrese Mattia Preti tra Caravaggio e Luca Giordano. The exhibition, curated by Vittorio Sgarbi and Keith Sciberras, was held between May and September of this year at La Venaria to honour the 400th anniversary of Mattia Preti’s birth.

The paintings, which are on loan from a private collector, has only recently been discovered and restored, and Il Cavalier Calabrese was their first exhibit outside of the Wignacourt. Both masterpieces were placed in the ‘Volti e Personaggi’ room, in which most of the artwork follows a typical format of a half-length figure depicted within a vertical canvas space.

Oriental Man by Gregorio Preti

Gregorio’s Oriental Man, rather than being an actual portrait, is a typecasting of the men found in the taverns of and around Rome back then, and a similar kind of figure is repeated in another work by Gregorio, Le Nozze di Cana (Rome, Palazzo Taverna di Montegiordano). The painting was created in a late-Caraveggesque manner, in which the chiaroscuro technique was used – the style uses light from the top left of the painting thus illuminating one side of the figure; contrasting the rest of the image.

St Publius by Mattia Preti

Mattia Preti’s depiction of St Publius, however, moves away from this technique, which had become quite popular at the time. Mattia used volto illuminato instead, which is a characteristic that he made use of during his first phase in Malta, to which St Publius dates back to. The same technique can be observed in his portrayal of saints at Sarria Church in Floriana.

Nevertheless, his true genius can be seen in the brush strokes of the drapery and the application of pigment – which are also traits of his early work in Malta. The absence of symbols in the painting, however, has made it very difficult to identify the saint. But the likeness to a depiction of St Publius by Preti at the Church of St Publius adjoining the Wignacourt has led many to believe it is another representation of the saint.

Both artworks are now on display at the Wignacourt along with Mattia Preti’s other work at the museum.

For more information on the artworks or the museum you can contact us on +356 2749 4905 or at info@wignacourtmuseum.com

Good Things Come In Threes

The Wignacourt’s curated tours to the sound of Stalko’s indie music have been so popular they are set to return for the third time on Thursday 17 September.

Stalko curated tours.

Stalko curated tours.

In anticipation of next Thursday’s event, we spoke to some of the recent attendees to discover what exactly made these events so incredibly special.

“There are only positive things that spring to mind when I think back to Stalko’s curated tour of the Wignacourt. The tour was magical from start to finish, with lots of surprises along the way,” Alison Galea, the lead singer of Beangrowers, tells us.

“I had never been to the Wignacourt, so it was an exciting evening. It was a great combination of culture and good, acoustic music, which promised a peaceful vibe to everybody there. Plus, Stalko performed really well in that setting and I was pleased to be a part of it. The Wignacourt Café was a welcoming start and wonderful finish to the perfect evening… I loved it!”

The same feelings were shared by designer Saz Mifsud.

“The stalko event at the Wignacourt was such a unique experience. It is one worth attending as it proved to be the perfect combination of art and music. I have never been to an exhibition which was also a gig,” says Saz. “The Wignacourt is special because when learning about the art on show at the museum, you also learn more about Maltese history. And, as for stalko, their folk melodies blended perfectly with the museum’s ambience.”

Stalko will perform at the Wignacourt and the adjoining war shelters and catacombs on Thursday 17 September 2013 from 9pm onwards, while the Wembley Store Boys will be on stage on Thursday 10 October 2013 from 9pm onwards. To reserve you places for both Stalko and the Wembley Store Boys please call on 2749 4905.

Ray Cortis’ ‘Roots’ – In deep at the Wignacourt

Ray Cortis 2

There is something sinister about Ray Cortis’ work: a sort of magic in the movement, a surrealism in the depiction of his objects, and what seems to be a bottled-up pain that just had to come out. Whatever it is that his work makes you feel, however, one thing is obvious: he is no amateur to the art scene.

Working under the guidance of master Anton Agius, the apprentice has now carved a name for himself. As Ray Cortis told us, “Anton Agius is the person who helped me improve my skills as a woodcarver and even more so as an artist.”

Entitled Roots – due to the fact that Cortis enjoys “working on tree roots, because most of the works are in roots, and last but not least, because roots and trees are interesting material in terms of colours, form and movement” – the exhibition has been at the Wignacourt since July, and has attracted many visitors and much positive feedback.

Ray Cortis 1

Cortis’ work is of the highest quality and innately Maltese. The aim for his endeavors, at least this time round, was to “express human fingers in the most classic of ways, particularly in the depiction of the guardian angel” and for the artist to express himself in “a most poetic and dramatic way.”

In our very biased opinion, he has managed this wonderfully, but don’t take our word for it. Ray Cortis’s Roots is on until the end of September and definitely deserves a visit.

For more information on ‘Roots’ contact us on +356 2749 4905.