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Title: The Oratories of the Onorati and the Immaculate Conception at the Jesuit church, Valletta : volume I
Authors: Cassar, Paul
Keywords: Oratories -- Malta -- Valletta
Jesuit Church (Valletta, Malta)
Confraternities -- Malta -- History
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: The Oratories annexed with the Jesuit church in Valletta have for generations attracted the attention of local and foreign academics for their artistic and architectural remarkability. The colourful and valuable artistic legacy which these sites boast is the underlining stimulus that urged several scholars to ponder about these sites. In turn, an evaluated appreciation of these two Oratories is intended to contribute to the academic field of local art history. Though historically and artistically enthralling, the research on local Confraternities and/or Congregations was never attempted in a holistic study. Nevertheless, research on the subject brought new vital information and a broader hindsight. In 1981, Carmel Ellul Galea attempted the first synoptic study on Confraternities and Guilds which paved the way for more tangible interest and further publications on the subject. Other publications in the form of pamphlets, papers and articles highlighted new and valuable information on the matter. The interesting topic attracted academics to embark on proper study and a handful of unpublished dissertations were presented at the University of Malta over the past years. One case in point is the study presented in 2002 as fulfilment of M.A. in History by Daniel Rossi. This research is entitled ‘Charity and Confraternal Piety in Malta and Sicily from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth century’. It is very informative and presents invaluable information on the sacred and social facets of the said institutional organizations. This study zooms on Valletta, the city of the cognoscenti and the historic landmark of Malta. Primarily, it aims to find out more about the marvel of Congregations within the Jesuit complex. Published sources on the subject are few. First to attempt a compendium on the Oratory of the Onorati was Vincenzo Bonello in 1969. Apparently this was the result of the first ever reading of the archives of the Onorati, which although brief and concerned only with few volumes, it made the illustrious organization and the artistic prestige of the site itself public. Equally important was the archival study conducted by Michael Galea which focused mainly on the Archives of the Order of St. John (AOM) at the National Library in Malta in order to compile the book ‘Il-Knisja tal-Ġiżwiti fil-Belt Valletta’. This was published in 1983. In his work, Galea underlines the architectural and artistic importance of the Oratories and puts forward one of the earliest references to the Congregation of the Montrificatis, which for some time was a resident of the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception. At the same time, the Congregations within the Jesuit complex were subject to an important short study conducted by the learned Jesuit Fr. Daniel M. Glavina and published in the centenary book ‘Marian Devotions in the Island of St. Paul, (1600-1800)’. Glavina’s work is by far the most important study on Marian Congregations in the Jesuit premises. Closer to our time, leading scholars upheld interest in the sites in several of their publications. A concise but vital contribution was made by Quentin Hughes and Conrad Thake in their collaborative work titled ‘Malta the Baroque Island’, in which a synoptic appreciation was made on the Oratory of the Onorati. Hughes and Thake’s publication underlines the architectural distinction of the two Oratories, suggesting that the two sites are among the most splendid examples in the genre. The authors allude to the possible contribution of the Italian architect Francesco Buonamici, who was the leading protagonist in the restructuring of the Jesuit church and college in the first half of the 17th century. The two cycles of paintings at the Oratories were also subject to recent studies and publications. The works at the Oratory of the Onorati were analysed in 1997 by Bernadine Scicluna in her unpublished M.A dissertation titled ‘A stylistic analysis of Stefano and Alessio Erardi’s paintings’ at the University of Malta. Except for the titular altarpiece, the cycle of works at the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception rarely received a comprehensive appreciation. Keith Sciberras in his publication Baroque Paintings in Malta published in 2010 has regenerated interest in the two set of works and contextualized them within the extensive story of local Baroque painting.
Description: M.A.HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2014

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