Nine masterpieces from the national collection on display at Palazzo Barberini in Rome

Masterpieces from the national collection that will be on display in the community art museum, il-MUŻA, are currently featuring prominently in Rome in a major exhibition entitled, ‘Mediterraneo in Chiaroscuro – Ribera, Stomer e Preti da Malta a Roma’.

These include works by Jusepe de Ribera, Matthias Stom and Francesco de Mura featured next to paintings from the Barberini collection. The exhibition at Palazzo Barberini connects foreign artists, including those from other Italian artistic centres of production, who resided in Rome and followed Caravaggio’s ‘chiaroscuro’ style. The exhibition will remain open till the 21st of May at the National Art Gallery of Rome in Palazzo Barberini.

This is the first time that masterpieces from the national collection are exhibited together with paintings from the Rome collection. The historic and artistic relation between Malta and Rome goes back to the 17th century when first Caravaggio and then Mattia Preti indelibly marked the island’s rich culture and art history. These include Jusepe de Ribera’s St Stephen, Matthias Stom’s The Lamentation over the Dead Abel, The Beheading of St John the Baptist, The Parable of the Good Samaritan and Francesco de Mura’s Allegory of Malta. The exhibition hang is put together in such a way as to create meaningful relationships which besides providing new narratives bridging the two collections, also enables scholars to discuss works from the two national collections. This is particularly the case for a painting of Heraclitus, also known as the weeping philosopher, for which a new attribution is being put forward for discussion in this exhibition.

This is an exceptional loan from Heritage Malta’s museum collection which is also the beginning of a long-term collaboration between the two museums, both of which are being rethought into 21st century museums with meaningful experiences. During yesterday’s preview and press launch, Italy’s Minister for Culture Dario Franceschini, also underpinned the significance of this collaboration as he was given a preview of the exhibition by the director of Gallerie Nazionali, exhibition curators and the Maltese ambassador in Rome.    

This exhibition is also being put up on the occasion of the Maltese Presidency of the European Union and with the support of Arts Council Malta. It is jointly curated by Alessandro Cosma of the National Art Gallery of Rome and Sandro Debono, Senior Curator of MUŻA at Heritage Malta. Contributors to the exhibition catalogue also include Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery of London, Mario Epifani, former Director of Armerie Reali of Turin, Viviana Farina and Claudio Malice from the Accademia delle Belle Arti of Naples.