Arriving in Malta in 1744, Chevalier Antoine de Favray (1706-c. 1792) played a crucial role in Maltese art, particularly because he was the only man who managed to fill the void left behind by Mattia Preti’s death.
He was quickly commissioned by the Order of the Knights of St John, and in 1871 he became a Serving Brother of the Order, even though he was not of noble blood. This made him the official painter of the Order, and it is for this reason that one of the most unlikely pairings in sainthood came to be.
The Wignacourt Museum’s painting of St John the Baptist and St Paul displays a very rare matching in art, as these two saints are not usually related in any way. To the Order, however, these two saints were incredibly important: St John, because he was their patron saint; and St Paul, because of the Grotto in Rabat which had fallen under their care.
This illustrious painting is now a prized article amongst the Wignacourt’s collection. Its composition displays Preti’s influence on Favray, but the use of chromatic reds and greens are typical of the artist, and show that this was probably painted at the later stage of Favray’s first period in Malta.
Another of his artworks on display at the Wignacourt is that of St Cathaldus (1760), which was originally produced for the small Baroque church dedicated to the saint just 50 metes away from the Grotto of St Paul.
Signed and dated by the artists, this piece showcases Favray’s talent. Due to his use of a dark background, a sharp contrast is created between this and the gold-embroidered and white vestments of the saint. This results in the saint having an illuminated aura and almost projecting out of the canvas.
Favray would live to a ripe old age of 86 and would work in two of the most influential cities ruled by two of the most powerful cultures of the era: Rome and Constantinople. His work is truly superior and only when being face-to-face with one of his works can you truly appreciate his craftsmanship.
For more information on the Wignacourt Museum and its artefacts you can contact us on +356 2749 4905 or at firstname.lastname@example.org