The Mediterranean in chiaroscuro
Ribera, Stomer and Mattia Preti from Malta to Rome
11 January 2017 - 02 July 2017
curated by Alessandro Cosma and Sandro Debono
To mark the beginning of the Malta’s 6-monthly presidency of the European Union, the MUZA (Mużew Nazzjonali tal-Arti, the National Museum of Art) in Valletta and the National Galleries of Art will be comparing and contrasting a selection of masterpieces from their respective collections to foster an understanding of them and make them better known, in a framework of institutional dialogue and collaboration.
The exhibition focuses on the intense historic and artistic exchanges between Rome and Malta in the 1600s, when first Caravaggio (1571-1610) and then Mattia Preti (1613-1699) moved to Malta as Knights of the Order of St. John that ruled the island. During that period Malta was increasingly influenced by the artistic and cultural influences emanating from Baroque Rome.
The legacy of Caravaggio is the focus of the first part of the exhibition, dedicated to a group of painters active in Italy in the first decade of the 1600s, whose work was greatly influenced by Caravaggio: from Ribera (1591-1652) to Vouet (1590-1649); from De Haen (1597-1622) to Ter Brugghen (1588-1629); from Stomer (or Stom, 1600-1650 ca.) to the mysterious Candlelight Master.
Another section will be devoted to Mattia Preti, also known as the ‘Calabrian Knight’ because he belonged to the Order of St. John. The paintings on display testify to his success in Rome and Naples, while others date to his later years after settling in Malta in 1661.
The exhibition closes symbolically with the painting by Francesco de Mura (1696-1782), the Allegory of the Nobility of the Order of Malta, dated 1747. It is a tribute to Malta and its Knights by the artist regarded as the “foremost painter” of Rome.
Image: Matthias Stomer, The Beheading of Battista, MUŻA – Mużew Nazzjonali tal-Arti (Heritage Malta), 1640-1645 ca.