Mattia Preti – Self Image is the second exhibition of its kind organised by Heritage Malta. It presents a painting of the renowned Southern Italian artist acquired by the national agency. This painting is part of a larger work which was split into three in recent times.
This exhibition was inaugurated by the Minister of Justice, Culture and Local Government, Dr Owen Bonnici, in the presence of Chairman of Heritage Malta, Dr Joseph M. Buttigieg, CEO Heritage Malta, Mr Kenneth Gambin, and Mr Alexander Debono, Senior Curator Arts & Palaces.
In May 2016 Heritage Malta acquired a painting by Mattia Preti representing Apelles. This painting was bought through sale by auction at Artcurial Auction House (Paris). It was subsequently brought to Malta, studied, researched, conserved and restored before presenting it in this exhibition. This research project has led to a better understanding of the painting and its relationship to the other two surviving fragments which once formed part of one canvas.
The painting depicts Apelles, the famous Greek painter from Classical Antiquity, painting Campaspe, Alexander the Great’s lover. It is also a self portrait, given that Apelles has Preti’s facial features. This detail was noted by Preti’s biographer, Bernardo de Dominici, who makes direct reference to the painting by the artist.
Minister Dr Owen Bonnici said the acquisition of this painting is in line with the Government’s policy to enhance the National Collection. He also said that last year Heritage Malta spent almost €300,000 in acquisition of artefacts and paintings to enhance the National Collection. Dr Bonnici emphasized the importance of such research projects, since they give further value to the collections.
The biggest corpus of works by Mattia Preti on display in any public museum were housed at the National Museum of Fine Arts which closed its doors at the Admiralty House last weekend after 42 years. This painting of Mattia Preti will form part of the Italian arts collection on display at MUZA, the new national community art museum at the Auberge d’Italie and flagship project for Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture.
The painting is on exhibit at the National Museum of Archaeology, in Valletta, between the 5th of October and the 30th of November. This exhibition forms part of the Espresso Exhibition Series. This title is inspired by the extremely popular, highly concentrated and strongly flavoured coffee shot. Like espresso, these exhibitions are appreciably diminutive but intense, and cast the spotlight on intriguing artefacts from the National Collection.