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Title: From the eternal city to Malta : the Roman baroque imprint on the regional late baroque sculpture of Pietro Paolo Zahra
Authors: Meli, Christina
Keywords: Sculpture, Baroque -- Italy -- Rome
Sculpture, Baroque -- Malta -- 18th century
Zahra, Pietro Paolo, 1685-1747
Altarpieces, Baroque -- Malta
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: This research aims to analyse the late Baroque sculptured altar reredoses of Pietro Paolo Zahra (1685-1747), one of the most important eighteenth century regional Baroque sculptors in Malta, and discuss their regional characteristics within the international context of Roman Baroque sculpture and its spread. The imprint of the Roman Baroque on Malta is the result of a set of conditions that enhanced the dissemination of the High Baroque from the Eternal City to regional areas, among them Malta, where it was amalgamated with tradition to create a Maltese Late Baroque style. This study has three main goals: the first is to identify and analyse the channels through which Pietro Paolo Zahra came into contact with the Roman Baroque style; the second is to analyse stylistic parallelism in the sculpture of other regional centres, and the third is to attribute new works to Pietro Paolo Zahra on the basis of style and to examine the workings of his workshop. The aims of the study are primarily reached through onsite research in Malta and a study visit to Sicily. Onsite research is complemented with archival research in several collections but chiefly in the Senglea Parish Archives, the Archives of the Archbishop’s Curia at Floriana, and the Notarial Archives in Valletta. Literature on Roman Baroque sculpture in Malta has focused almost exclusively on the patronage of the Order of St John while Maltese Late Baroque sculpture has been dispersedly discussed in previous dissertations. Archival research on Pietro Paolo Zahra has been conducted but the channels through which he was imprinted with the Roman Baroque idiom have never been evaluated. Furthermore, the altar reredoses of Pietro Paolo Zahra have never been analysed in the light of their regional characteristics and in direct comparison with Rome, the source, and other regional centres. Through the analysis of Pietro Paolo Zahra’s altar reredoses, this research synthesises Maltese art historical literature and fills a lacuna by improving understanding of the regional characteristics sculpture acquired from its ultimate sources. The most important contribution of this research is the shedding of light on the artistic links between Malta and Rome that enabled the dominant imprint of the Roman Baroque style on Maltese Late Baroque sculpture.
Description: M.A.HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2017
Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2017

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