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Title: The decorative programme at Palazzo Parisio, Naxxar
Authors: Agius, Frederica
Keywords: Decorative arts
Palazzo Parisio and Gardens (Naxxar, Malta)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The main aim behind this B.A. dissertation was to document the interior decoration of Palazzo Parisio and show how the Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna projected his vision onto his palatial residence. This vision was implemented through the very capable team of artists in the fields of painting and sculpture who were employed by the Marquis. This dissertation defines who the team were and what works they were responsible for, which was made possible through the study of previously unpublished documentation. The result of this vision places Palazzo Parisio as an important example of secular decoration at the turn of the twentieth century. The decorative arts are currently being given importance in Malta and the main examples of decoration are usually found within the many churches in Malta. The works in Palazzo Parisio are by the same artists and sculptors who worked in these churches, and thus provides an alternative setting for the decorators to work in. The art work in Palazzo Parisio has not previously been published in great detail and the only published works on the place are in the forms of souvenir books. The new information in this dissertation has been uncovered through the new documentation which was studied for this research. Palazzo Parisio has no official archives and the documentation, in the form of letters and telegrams are divided amongst the descendants of the Marquis. These handwritten letters and telegrams were sent by various involved personal at the initial stages of the works at Palazzo Parisio. These documents uncovered names of architects and sculptors who were previously unknown in the context of Palazzo Parisio and are given relevance for the first time in this dissertation. The documents also confirmed a number of artists and in some cases, this is their only work in Malta. The documents also helped to decipher patronage patterns and show how involved personal were with the project, and who was treated with more respect than others. The documents also show that the Marquis was very involved in this project and thus the result of the decoration is highly personalised and can be seen as an allegory of the man and a showcase for the fashion at the turn of the twentieth century in Malta. The Marquis gave importance to foreign influences and the letters and telegrams show that he sent his architetto travelling around Italy, and the places visited have been documented in this dissertation for the first time. I had the chance to visit some of the places mentioned such as Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania and Villa Malfitano in Palermo. A number of similarities were able to be drawn between these places and Palazzo Parisio and show that in some cases they provided a direct influence and also helped with the attribution of certain artists. This dissertation also places Palazzo Parisio in the context of the artists and sculptor’s oeuvre where in some cases it is shown as amongst the last works of some of the sculptors. It is also shown as the only work in Malta for two of the artists and thus shows that the Marquis was prepared to commission foreign artists for his home, similar to the Church who sought the work of foreigners rather than locals. The Marquis also seems to follow this pattern and it can be linked to the 19th Century mentality where foreign, namely Italian, art is preferred to that of Maltese artists. The Marquis was part of the third generation of wealthy bankers and merchants and Palazzo Parisio is also shown as a showpiece for the achievements of this up and coming class in Malta. It also shows the Marquis’ informed patronage and continues the line of buildings from the second generation of the Sciclunas, namely his uncle Emmanuele, who was responsible for buildings such as the Dragonara Palace which is now a Casino. A number of similarities have been drawn between Palazzo Parisio and the Dragonara Palace, which at times acts as a direct influence and is even included in the decoration as part of this legacy.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2012

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