Mattia Preti’s fourth centenary from his birth in 2013 as the backdrop for the event of the year.
Preparations for the Mattia Preti international exhibition are in full swing. This will be Heritage Malta’s major event for 2013; a joint collaboration between the National Museum of Fine Arts and Museo Civico di Taverna which will also be Heritage Malta’s first time ever exhibition design and logistics coordination for an exhibition happening in Italy. The project is now in its final phase, with preparations on the catalogue, display and logistics well underway. The exhibition “Mattia Preti – Faith and Humanity” will be inaugurated in Taverna, Mattia Preti’s birth place, on February 24th which also happens to be the artist’s 400th birth anniversary. The exhibition will then proceed to Malta where it will be open to the general public between May and July in the State Rooms of The Grand Master’s Palace Valletta. The exhibition project enjoys the distinguished patronage of his Excellency the President of the Republic of Malta Dr George Abela, who has recently also met Taverna counterparts at San Anton Palace during their visit in Malta.
The exhibition shall feature prestigious loans from major international institutions of undisputed credibility. These include the Prado (Spain), the Louvre (Paris), Museo di Capodimonte (Naples), Musei Vaticani (the Vatican, Rome), Uffizi (Florence) and many others. Mattia Preti’s masterpieces in these collections, and not only, will be showcased in this prestigious exhibition along with select works from the National Museum of Fine Arts and from churches and collections in his birth place Taverna. Pride of place will be taken up by Mattia Preti’s “Sermon of St John the Baptist”, including his self-portrait, that will be showcased both in Taverna and in Malta. This painting is one of two self-portraits painted by the artist. It was purposely painted for his family chapel in the church of San Domenico in Taverna and shows Preti wearing the habit of the Order of St John.
Restoration and conservation works on Heritage Malta’s Mattia Preti collection are close to completion following two years of intensive work complemented by necessary research and study. The Museo Civico di Taverna, with whom Heritage Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts has shared its resources and complemented its expertise, made available the necessary apparatus and expertise to carry out non invasive scientific investigations on the paintings. Thanks to this collaboration, the two institutions also enrolled the expertise of Florence’s prestigious Opificio delle Pietre Dure who carried out x-ray and IR photography on Preti paintings both in Taverna and in Malta.
Mattia Preti was born in Taverna, a small town in Catanzaro (Calabria). His elder brother, Gregorio, was an artist then active in Rome, and Mattia was to shortly follow in his elder brother’s footsteps. In Rome Mattia Preti acquainted himself with the major exponents of Roman Baroque art and painted his first major commissions. His connections with the Order of St John date back to 1642 when still in Rome, when he succeeds in being bestowed with knighthood of Magisterial Obedience by Pope Urban VIII. Preti is reputed to have also travelled widely to Venice and other major Italian cities but later moves to Naples. It is there that he painted his first commissions for the Grandmaster of the Order of St John in Malta, Martin de Redin. He came to Malta in 1659 lured by the prospect of obtaining a coveted promotion to knight of Magisterial Grace. His works in Malta attracted attention, but he only succeeded in his venture a few years later when he returned a second time to Malta to paint the entire ceiling of the Conventual Church of the Order of St John, his offer to get the much coveted promotion. Preti subsequently settled in Malta, died here in 1699, and was subsequently buried at St John’s. His contribution to art in Malta is outstanding; his artworks grace local churches then built by small rural communities which for the first time ever could access baroque works of art by one of its major exponents.
Heritage Malta is reaching out to private companies and sponsors willing to be part of this national event. A number of organisations have already shown interest in this project and are actively supporting the exhibition through various kinds of sponsorships, ranging from monetary donations to services and equipment. More information on sponsorships can be acquired by sending an email to email@example.com or calling Heritage Malta’s Head Office on 22954000.