Eight paintings by Mattia Preti from Malta’s national collection, along with two of the artist’s sketches and other artefacts, have been loaned by Heritage Malta to the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw for an exhibition running until 3rd March 2024. The exhibition is being held under the honorary patronage of HE the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda.
The eight paintings loaned by Heritage Malta are The Young St John the Baptist wearing the Habit of the Order of St John, Daniel interpreting the Dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, Lot and his Daughters, Drunkenness of Noah, St Bartholomew, Doubting Thomas, Baptism of Christ, and Apelles painting Campaspe.
The painting Mattia Preti Distributing Alms to the Poor by Giuseppe Calì, also from Malta, further enhances the exhibition, as do two Mattia Preti works which form part of Poland’s national collections – Adoration of the Shepherds and A Game of Backgammon.
The other artefacts from Malta, meant to aid the understanding of the history of Malta and to place the paintings in their historical context, include a Muslim tombstone, a pair of steel gauntlets from the Palace Armoury, a maiolica pharmacy jar from the Knights’ period, and a sample of currency in use during the 38 years that Mattia Preti spent in Malta.
The exhibition, entitled Mattia Preti: Discovering The Baroque Secrets of Malta, offers a fascinating insight into Preti’s strong connection with Malta, his formative years and many travels before settling in Malta in 1661, his aspiration for knighthood in the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and the most ambitious project of his career – the painting of the vault of St John’s Conventual Church in Valletta.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the exhibition, HE the Ambassador of Malta to Poland, Dr Marisa Farrugia, said that culture and the arts transcend borders, and the organisation of the Mattia Preti exhibition at the Royal Łazienki Museum is a testament to this. The exhibition not only crossed physical borders but also forged strong cultural cooperation between Heritage Malta and the Royal Łazienki Museum. It also attests to the Embassy’s dedication to cultural diplomacy and to its efforts to foster a unified European identity. Heritage Malta’s Chief Executive Officer, Noel Zammit, said that the national cultural agency is working on various levels to make the national collection accessible not only to the Maltese public but also to international audiences. Initiatives such as the Mattia Preti exhibition in Warsaw help to nurture a better understanding of the value of such works of art and increase the public’s appreciation of these treasures. Exhibitions like these also serve as a platform for intercultural dialogue and attest to how national entities can work together to further enrich each other’s national identity, said Mr Zammit while expressing hope that Malta and Poland collaborate further in the field of art and culture.
The inauguration ceremony was also attended by the Director of the Royal Łazienki Museum, Marianna Otmianowska, and Heritage Malta’s Chief Operations Officer, Kenneth Gambin.
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