Stqarrija bil-Malti Agħfas Hawn / Press Release in Maltese Click Here

Two paintings by Esprit Barthet (1919 – 1999) which are part of the national collection have been loaned by Heritage Malta to be displayed in the exhibition Esprit Barthet – A Life of Colour, which brings together several important works by this leading 20th century Maltese artist.

The paintings are Marì tal-Bajd from the MUŻA collection, and The Bathers which is usually displayed at the Girgenti Palace. They will be showcased from 26th March till 28th May at Il-Ħaġar Museum in Gozo, during this landmark retrospective exhibition where visitors may view Barthet’s famous ‘rooftops’ series as well as a good representation of portrait paintings and experimental styles throughout his career.

Marì tal-Bajd was created in 1964 and is regarded by many, including the artist himself, as the best work ever produced by Barthet. It is a milestone in Maltese 20th century portraiture, representing a new way of looking at portraiture on the local shores. As one of the few non-commissioned works by Barthet, this portrait is less formal and more expressive.

The striking aspect of this work on canvas is the frontal monumental seating position which presents the viewer with the strong features of the sitter – a woman who used to sell eggs and vegetables to Barthet’s family in Xemxija.

The Bathers, created in 1968, is one of a series of paintings produced by Barthet following his experiments with the ‘rooftops’. In this series, the artist overlaid masses of coloured squares on human figures. Barthet uses heavy impasto to conceive this effect. The subject of the painting are the female nude figures or the different coloured masses.

Throughout his career, Esprit Barthet worked in series, experimenting with different styles consecutively. He played an essential part in the emergence of modern art in Malta and was a major influence for many local budding artists. Esprit Barthet – A Life of Colour surveys the several milestones of his career, also through examples from collections which are not easily accessible.

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