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Title: The portraits of Grand Masters at the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat
Authors: Vella, Rachel
Keywords: Wignacourt Museum (Rabat, Malta)
Knights of Malta -- Malta -- Portraits
Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798 -- Pictorial works
Order of St John -- Malta -- Portraits
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: This thesis analyses the portrait collection of Grand Masters at the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat. By doing so, it will research such works while discussing the context which resulted in them entering the Wignacourt College. It will also study the manner in which the Grand Masters are represented, and how this is similar or different to other painted portraits of Grand Masters on the Maltese Islands. As a result, a concrete understanding of the portraits will be provided in order to bring to light the reasons for their significance in Maltese portraiture. The Wignacourt Museum was formerly the Wignacourt College, and nowadays incorporates a total of twenty painted portraits of Grand Masters in bust length, half length, three quarter length and full length, which were commissioned or acquired throughout the years. Such portraits are displayed in the Treasurer’s Room, in the Chapter Hall, and on the staircase leading to the piano nobile. The works under study represent numerous Grand Masters who reigned between the establishment of the Wignacourt College in 1619, with Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, and the departure of the Knights from Malta in 1798, under the rule of Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch, together with two earlier portraits of Martin Garzes and Pietro del Monte. They are vernacular works anonymous in the large part, which have been hitherto attributed on three separate occasions to Cassarino, the School of Stefano Erardi and the Workshop of Antoine Favray. The research carried out throughout this dissertation involved analysing the portraits at the Wignacourt College historically and formally. The former involved engaging with archival documents preserved at the Wignacourt Museum, in order to study the provenence of various portraits within the collection, and in turn uncover which of the portraits were commissioned by the Wignacourt Chaplains. A formal analysis was also conducted in order to trace developments in the fashion and iconography of such portraits, and to come to terms with which of the paintings are artistically significant. Once this was done, various portraits of Grand Masters were tracked down and viewed in public and private collections around the Maltese Islands, hence allowing a comparative analysis to follow. This placed the portraits at the Wignacourt Museum within the context of Maltese portraiture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2017
Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2017

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