2013 marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of Mattia Preti. This important occasion is being marked by an exhibition organized by Heritage Malta and the Comune of Taverna, where Mattia Preti was born. The exhibition is the final stage of a three year process during which the works of Preti have been studied and revisited. The exhibition together with the Catalogue is the culmination of this journey. The Catalogue includes 9 papers by leading art scholars and historians, some of whom are publishing for the first time their findings after the recent studies of Pretti's paintings. The Catalogue also includes entries of the 49 art-pieces and artifacts forming part of this unique exhibition. Much passion and commitment has gone into the making of this project. Dignity is perhaps the intended objective which to our great satisfaction also received the positive support of some of the major European museums including the Louvre, Prado, Musei Vaticani, Brera, Uffizi, Capodimonte and Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Barberini amongst others. This common intent shared between Preti's two historic realities, the native city of Taverna and Malta, spurred the curators to reap the desired results and achieve the intended objectives of this complex cultural project. The backbone of this project is a scientific research project proper concerning Preti's works in both Taverna and Malta, particularly the National Museum of Fine Arts, and goes beyond art historical research to include scientific investigations undertaken jointly by Taverna's Laboratorio di Restauro Conservazione e Ricerca and Heritage Malta's Conservation Division at Bighi. The scientific investigation carried out on Preti's Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria, in particular, yielded unexpected results and confirmed the iconographical attributes of the martyr saint lying underneath. We hope these results will be the scope for more debate and discussion for the international academic community to take further. All this empowered us to read deeper into Preti's works in both Taverna and Malta and guided our selection of works to feature in the exhibition. The 400th anniversary of Mattia Preti's birth makes us all proud of a shared heritage which this project rethinks and consolidates. Vincenzo Bonello, who contemporary to Alfonso Frangipane and Valerio Mariani, rediscovered Mattia Preti's legacy and corpus of works in Malta transformed all this into a powerful identity construct mostly effective during colonial times. Preti's ideals have thus moved beyond any delimiting borders on to our times, four hundred years later and, from this safe distance, empower us to objectively assess his exceptional creative trajectory. Preti can now be read as a noble man who strives hard with his art to get back what his family had lost a few years before his birth. His quest transformed him from knight to a monk of war ready to do battle in the name of his spiritual and social affirmations which can be fully recognized in the ideals of Faith and Humanity.
Publisher: Midsea Books Ltd,Malta
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