The Department of Conservation and Built Heritage of the University of Malta has successfully concluded in April 2019 the conservation of the uniquely surviving 18th century wall paintings in the Chapel of Palazzo de la Salle in Valletta.
The marvelous Palazzo was home to Knights of the Order of St John for over 200 years during the Baroque era. It has been the seat of the Malta Society of Arts (MSA) since 1923, and is currently used for arts education, exhibitions and performances.
The Chapel within the Palazzo is magnificently decorated: a stone altar surround is covered in oil-based wall paintings, probably dating to the 17th century, with ample use of gilding, while a frieze at the top of the room, dated 1731-1736 and also oil-based, depicts the Coats of Arms of Fra Guillaume de la Salle, the eponymous resident of the Palazzo, Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena, and scenes from the Life of St John. These paintings are highly significant as some of the few Baroque wall paintings in Malta to survive within a domestic context.
The Department started the study and conservation of the Chapel wall paintings in 2016, as a core component of the training of emerging professional conservators studying on its Master of Science programme in the Conservation of Decorative Architectural Surfaces. In October 2018, the Department entrusted the completion of the project to two of its recent professional graduates, who had been a part of the conservation project since its inception, who successfully completed the conservation of the wall paintings.