The work of Mattia Preti, an eminent Italian painter and frescoist of the Baroque period, continuator of Caravaggio style, will be presented from 20 October 2023 to 3 March 2024 at a temporary exhibition in the Officer Cadets School. The exhibition was organised jointly with the Embassy of Malta and the Maltese National Heritage Institute – Heritage Malta.
The exhibition will be open from Tuesday to Wednesday from 10.00 to 16.00, on Thursday and Friday from 10.00 to 18.00, on Saturday from 12.00-18.00, and on Sunday from 10.00 to 16.00. Last entry 30 minutes before the closing of the exhibition. Entry: 30 zlotys – normal ticket, 15 zlotys – reduced ticket, 20 zlotys – adults with a Large Family Card, 1 zloty – children over 7 and students under 26; on Fridays – admission is free of charge. Tickets are available at the ticket office, the ticket machine at the Officer Cadets School and online.
Mattia Preti – painter of the Order of Malta
Mattia Preti (1613–1699), known as Il Cavaliere Calabrese (the knight of Calabria, named after the region of Italy from which he came), is one of the most important Italian painters of mature Baroque and a representative of the emotional current of the era. He combined the luminism of Caravaggio and the rich colouring of Titian and Veronese in an original fashion. His work features expressive elegance and simplified details giving his oeuvre a loose, very painterly character.
He worked in Rome and Naples before settling in Malta in 1661, where he spent almost 40 years. In the meantime, in 1642, he became a Knight of Malta (of the second of three classes). He took vows of obedience to the Church and the legal regulations of the Order of Malta. He was anxious to obtain the privilege as the loss of the title of nobility by his family in 1605 was a personal humiliation for him. After he became the official painter of the Order of Malta, his works, often commissioned by families associated with the Maltese knights, began to reach other countries, mainly Italy. At present, his paintings, representing the late Baroque style, can be found in many of the world’s museums, as well as in church and private collections.
‘Mattia Preti’ – what will we see at the exhibition?
The exhibition at the Officer Cadets School opens with a historical outline of Malta, the objects that are examples of Maltese handicrafts and those related to the history of the island. The country where Mattia Preti spent much of his life and created his most important works is shown in a broader cultural context.
The next part of the exhibition is arranged chronologically and takes a closer look at the painter’s early works from the period when he was still in Italy, before he moved permanently to Malta. The core of the exhibition is made up of several paintings, commissioned by the Order of Malta, including ‘Lot and his Daughters’, ‘The young St. John the Baptist Wearing the Red Tabard of the Order of St. John’ or ‘Daniel Interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream’.
The exhibition also showcases Mattia Preti as a prominent frescoist of the Cathedral of St. John in Valletta. There, he produced a series of wall paintings depicting the life and martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, among others. The frescoes with their masterful illusionistic effects originate from between 1661 and 1666. Mattia Preti also decorated the apse and the church chapels. His achievements in the temple have greatly enhanced his artistic standing in Malta and beyond. We can get to know this gem of Baroque painting better thanks to an installation with replicas of frescoes.
The exhibition further shows the means of artistic expression and methods of expression that Mattia Preti used. The painting ‘The Martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria’, which was repainted by him, serves as an example. The changes made to the work are shown in a multimedia presentation.
The exhibition will also feature two paintings by Mattia Preti from the collections of Polish cultural institutions: ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’ from the National Museum in Warsaw and ‘Game of Backgammon’ from the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
The exhibition ‘Mattia Preti. Discovering Malta’s Baroque Mysteries’ is held under the honorary patronage of Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland. Funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage within the task of Preparation of the exhibition with the working title ‘Mattia Preti. Knight of Malta’.
Exhibition partners: Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie - Muzeum, Visit Malta, MidseaBooks, Quick Turtle
Museum Patron: PZU
Media patrons: RDC, AMS, Radio Warszawa, Kultura Wokół Nas, TVP Kultura, Spotkania z Zabytkami, Wernisażeria