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Title: Renaissance paintings in the Maltese islands : early fifteenth to mid-sixteenth centuries : a study and catalogue of works in Maltese collections
Authors: Dimech, Lydia
Keywords: Painting, Renaissance -- Malta -- History -- 15th century
Painting, Renaissance -- Malta -- History -- 16th century
Knights of Malta
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: The aim of this dissertation is to study and catalogue all known Renaissance paintings present in the Maltese Islands. I am going to deal with all the works that were made available, since there could very well be others that still need to be discovered. Throughout my research I became aware of the lack of published material regarding this specific topic in Malta. If one was to research, for instance, on Baroque and other later artistic periods in the Maltese Islands; one would find numerous publications. This period is often underestimated. It is as if Malta was a cultural backwater before the Knights of St John arrived on the Islands, but this was certainly not the case. Malta had already tasted the Italian Renaissance way before the arrival of the Hospitaller Knights of St John in 1530. So why do we tend to forget about these beautiful Renaissance paintings? My admiration for this particular period in the History of Art filled me with ambition to dig deeper and research for more information, over and above published knowledge and information. The goal of this dissertation is to enhance the reader’s understanding and appreciation of Renaissance paintings in the Maltese Islands as well as to provide a solid foundation for future studies. My main references throughout this dissertation where several books published by Dr Charlene Vella, including The Mediterranean Artistic Context of Late Medieval Malta, 1091-1530 (2013), and by Prof Mario Buhagiar mainly; The Iconography of the Maltese Islands, 1400-1900: Painting (1987), The Late Medieval Art and Architecture of the Maltese Islands (2005) and Essays on the Knights and Art and Architecture in Malta, 1500-1798 (2009). Dr Vella’s PhD thesis In the footsteps of Antonello da Messina: the De Saliba workshop: Sicily, Venice and Malta in the Early Renaissance (2015) provided a wealth of information on important works of art in Malta and its surrounding region. Other books were also referred to, since information is scattered around several renowned sources. Reference was also made to previous dissertations on the subject and to information found from reliable and verified sources from the Internet. This dissertation will be dealing primarily with Renaissance paintings present on the Maltese Islands dating from the early fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. I will be dealing with those paintings that were specifically commissioned for Malta and those that came along throughout the years. This study will be presented in a chronological way, divided in three separate chapters. When mentioning measurements, length will be stated first, followed by the breath. When making reference to the right and left of the painting, the reader should assume that reference is being made to the viewers right and left, unless otherwise stated. Chapter one will be focusing on those paintings that came to Malta before the arrival of the Hospitaller Knights of St John. A particular reference is made to the antonelliani paintings that are present in Malta. This would then be followed by Chapter two, which will be dealing with the paintings that came to the Maltese Islands upon arrival of the Knights, those paintings that were commissioned by the Knights during their stay, and those paintings that were commissioned during the Knights period by private patrons. This dissertation will also focus on those paintings that reached the Maltese Islands in later centuries. This will be discussed in Chapter three. The paintings that form part of Palazzo Falson’s collection will be mentioned in Chapter three. It is very probable that the collection present today at this museum, was acquired by Capt Olof Friederick Gollcher OBE (1889-1962) after he bought the house in 1927. It may also be the case that he had inherited some pieces of art works. It may in fact be the case that some of the paintings he purchased may have come from local collections. However, there is no proof that this was the case, and which paintings they were. For all these mentioned reasons, the paintings at Palazzo Falson would be considered as though they were brought to the Maltese Island after the Knights legacy. Appendix A will be dealing with the catalogue entries of all known Renaissance paintings found on the Maltese Islands. They will be grouped according to their location in an alphabetical manner. Each location will be adjusted depending on the date of execution. Despite the fact that this study will be dealing exclusively about Renaissance paintings found in the Maltese Islands, when needed, reference will be made to other foreign paintings. Moreover, reference to sculptures and other artifacts will be made throughout this thesis. This is to further enhance the argument and to provide the reader with a better picture of the presented argument and the context on which it is being discussed. This dissertation provided me with a unique and tough challenge. Apart from the lack of published material, the main problem was the closure of the National Museum of Fine Arts Museum in Valletta. Due to the logistics of transportation of the works of art to the new premises of Mużew Nazzjonali Tal-Arti at the Auberge d'Italie, also in Valletta, it was sometimes very hard to get access and study the paintings. While doing my research at the Mdina Cathedral Museum, I was informed by Rev Edgar Vella that there are no inventories that I could consult, thus I had to rely on the book published by Espinosa Rodriguez entitled Paintings at the Cathedral Museum, Mdina (2005). Moreover, despite the fact that the majority of the museums did have an inventory for their collections, they were not always reliable and some were even out-dated. It was not always possible to study the back of the paintings due to various reasons. The greatest challenge presented was the inability to get access to local private collections. However, at the end of my research, several other paintings, namely, the Triptych with the Madonna and Child, St John the Evangelist and St Paul, the Virgin Mary and the Madonna dell'Impannata, were brought to my attention and despite the lack of time being very close to the submission deadline, they were also included in this dissertation. I am really grateful to the patrons, who with great patience, support and enthusiasm let me study their magnificent works of art.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2017
Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2017

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