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Mattia Preti's 400th anniversary celebrated in Italy

— May 2013

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Mattia Preti, St John the Baptist clad in the habit of the Order of St John

Mattia Preti – Faith and Humanity

May 4 – July 7, 2013, Grand Master’s Palace, Valletta

On the occasion of the fourth centenary of the birth of Mattia Preti National Museum of Fine Arts (Heritage Malta) and Museo Civico of Taverna have announced the international exhibition ‘Mattia Preti – Faith and Humanity’, curated by Sandro Debono (Senior Curator, National Museum of Fine Arts, Malta) and Giuseppe Valentino (Director, Museo Civico of Taverna).

The exhibition is a tribute to the artist at two historic venues; his hometown Taverna, situated in the mountains of Calabria in the South of Italy, and Malta, where he worked for almost 40 years, dying in 1699.

The exhibition includes more than 50 works coming from important Italian and foreign museums including Uffizi, Prado and Musée du Louvre.

The exhibition analyses Preti’s artistic path beyond chronology, choosing instead the themes of faith and humanity. It highlights a series of sub-themes, including unexplored facets from the artist’s artistic and biographical narrative concerning personal cults and identity. Preti is represented not only as a painter trained in his elder brother Gregorio’s studio in Rome but also as the Knight of the Order of St John; the knight painter with a deep religiosity.  

The exhibition presents interesting comparisons with works by the artists of his time, including Guercino, his recognized mentor, and the Neapolitan Battistello Caracciolo. An interesting and hitherto unexplored comparison with Albrecht Durer is also presented. The exhibition also features preparatory drawings, sketches and studies that help explain Preti’s creative process. Diagnostic research undertaken on Preti’s painting in the collection of Museo Civico di Taverna and Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts are also presented side by side with the paintings. These studies have been undertaken over the past three years by the two institutions thanks to the collaboration with Florence’s Opificio delle Pietre Dure. A special didactic section in both venues shall present a more informal and educational outreach programme.

In anticipation of some of the research questions and new ideas which the exhibition ‘Mattia Preti – Faith and Humanity’ shall present for discussion, the Museo Civico of Taverna and Heritage Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts have just jointly published Mattia Preti – Beyond the Self Portrait, a 96 page publication in full colour featuring essays by the exhibition curators and an introductory resume written by the acclaimed Italian scholar Giorgio Leone from the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale of the City of Rome.

The exhibition catalogue is published by Abramo Editore of Catanzaro and includes an English and Italian version.  The exhibition was previously on display at Museo Civico of Taverna (February 24 – April 21, 2013)

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