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Title: The British and the Darmanin family of artists : decorative marble commissions in nineteenth-century colonial Malta
Authors: Muscat, Jessica
Keywords: Darmanin, Carlo, 1825-1909
Marble in art -- Malta
Art patronage -- Malta
Malta -- History -- British occupation, 1800-1964
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Muscat, J. (2019). The British and the Darmanin family of artists : decorative marble commissions in nineteenth-century colonial Malta (Master’s dissertation ).
Abstract: The research question driving this dissertation is to quantify and analyse the British decorative marble commissions produced by the Darmanin family of artists, within the context of nineteenth-century Colonial Malta. The artistically impressive production of this workshop has to date not yet received the academic attention it deserves. In fact many works of art by the Darmanin firm were previously unstudied or misattributed. Within the local art historical context, the name Darmanin is relatively more synonymous with papier-mâché ecclesiastical statuary production and other church commissions such as the ledger tombstones at the Mdina Cathedral, rather than with their secular oeuvre. In fact, a sizeable portion of their work was somehow overlooked, a foremost case in point being their marble mosaic tabletop production. A significant corpus of table-tops by the Darmanin marmisti made their way beyond Maltese shores, and ended up in renowned international collections, including the Royal collection of Great Britain. Many have been revealed in numerous auctions throughout the years. Apart from table-tops which the Darmanin mostly produced for affluent British patrons while on their Grand Tour, they enjoyed numerous other prominent commissions. The first chapter will introduce the Darmanin family, discusses the whereabouts of their workshop and how it aided their business, and the numerous protagonists working within the firm. It also throws light on how the founder of the firm Giuseppe Darmanin acquired his training and the family’s link with their predecessors, the Durante family from Senglea. The style that they employed will also be considered by analysing specific works. In order to understand out of which context this family of artists emerged, the decorative arts scenario in British Colonial Malta will follow in the discussion, along with an analysis of marble production in the nineteenth century and the British taste for the art of pietre dure. These topics will help place these artists within perspective by understanding their times. Since this dissertation focuses on the British patronage of the Darmanin firm, the subsequent four chapters are devised according to the type of patron. After having introduced the family in the opening chapter, the following chapter deals solely with commissions by the British Colonial Government in Malta. The third chapter continues the discussion by treating the British Royalty as patrons to the Darmanin artists. This encompasses a discussion of the numerous works of art which are located in the Royal collection of Britain. The fourth chapter treats international exhibitions as a means of reaching new audiences and attracting new clientele outside Maltese shores. Then, the fifth and final chapter deals with individual British patrons. This discussion mainly treats affluent British patrons on the Grand tour, British officials residing in Malta and other prominent clients who has come in contact with their works. This particular topic involves mostly their table-top oeuvre which covers the majority of their work. It also comprises of monuments which the Darmanin executed for British customers who either resided or passed away in Malta. Research for this study had certain limitations. Due to the nature of the works of art falling within the remit of this dissertation, many of the works could not be viewed and examined in person. Auction houses normally do not reveal information on the buyer, thus the whereabouts are often left unknown. Besides that, there could be works in private collections or works sold in past auctions, which will never be located and identified for various reasons. The Darmanin workshop was highly regarded by the British, thus their works are now dispersed throughout the British isles. This fact made it logistically complicated for their entire oeuvre to be examined. The Darmanin firm was so immensely prolific that table-tops are still being located to this day and many will be uncovered after this dissertation is finalised.
Description: M.A.HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2019
Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2019

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