Restoration – Works of Art Given a New Lease of Life
One of the main objectives of The Foundation is to restore and conserve the priceless works of art in St John’s Co-Cathedral and its Museum artefacts. The work involved is extremely specialised, time consuming and expensive, but also vital if such treasures of international importance are to be preserved for the appreciation of future generations.
Conservation of three Funerary Monuments of the Grand Masters
During 2014 and 2015 the Foundation’s resident marble restorer Raymond Aquilina carried out the restoration on the Funerary Monument of the Grand Master Fra Jean Paule de Lascaris Castellar, of the Grand Master Fra Antoine de Paule and of the Grand Master Fra Emanuel Pinto de Fonseca.
Restoration of the Baldachin over the High Altar
The restoration of the gilt wooden frame of the baldachin was done in 2015 and carried out by Wood Conservation Ltd under the initiative of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. A new ceiling for the baldachin was made with stars and the symbol of the Holy Spirit in the centre. Read more..
Restoration of the Blessed Gerard paintings by Mattia Preti
The restoration of the paintings in the Oratory was completed in 2015 with the restoration of “Blessed Gerard Tending to the Sick” and “The Miracle of the Loaves”, which are part of a set of ten paintings commissioned by Prior Lomellini and executed by Mattia Preti in 1680. Read more..
Restoration of the choir stalls and lectern
Restoration of the choir stalls and lectern commenced in November 2013 on the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. Works were entrusted to James Saliba and his team of restorers.
The restoration process commenced with the cleaning of the choir stalls from several layers of darkened varnish, dirt and grime followed by the repair of losses in the gilt decorative scheme. Repairs were also carried out on the carvings. The stalls were also treated against biological and insect infestation. To finish the restoration process, a layer of protective coating was applied. Read more…
Restoration of the chapels of France, Provence and Anglo-Bavaria
The chapels dedicated to the langues of France, Provence and Anglo-Bavaria began in December 2013 and was completed in October 2014. These are were the final three chapels in St John’s Co-Cathedral to be restored.
The chapels of France and Provence are those closest to the main altar on the north side of the church whilst the Anglo-Bavarian chapel is attached to the chapel of Provence. Between 1663 and 1668 the knights of the French Langue held several meetings to discuss the re-decoration of their chapel which eventually led to its baroque modification. Documents note that the sculptors Domenico Gambin and Pietro Burlo were commissioned to carve the altar reredos, its columns, angels, coats-of-arms and steps. However the current decorative state of the chapel is reflective of a nineteenth century intervention led by the Nazarene artist Giuseppe Hyzler when an attempt was made to simplify the baroque decoration. Read more…
Restoration of the Chapel of Auvergne
The Restoration of the chapel of the langue of Auvergne was completed in May 2013 under the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. The project consisted of the restoration of the gilded wall carvings, the reredos and the two lunette paintings depicting ‘The Martyrdom of St Sebastian’ and ‘St Sebastian meeting Pope Pius Caius on his way to Martyrdom’, both by Giuseppe D’Arena, and the titular painting of The Martyrdom of St Sebastian attributed to Lucas Garnier. Read more…
Restoration of the Lunette Wall Painting the Allegory of Triumph by Mattia Preti and the First Register of the Vault
The Allegory of the Triumph of the Order of St John painted on lunette over the main door forms part of the decorative scheme executed by the Calabrian artist Mattia Preti who was commissioned in 1661 to execute the life of St John on the vault of the Conventual Church. The artist used oil on stone technique that consisted of globigerina limestone soaked in linseed oil and painted with oil based pigments. Read more…
Restoration of the Chapel of Castille
The chapel of the langue of Castille underwent major restoration interventions in 2011. The restoration project consisted of the restoration of the dome and wall carvings.
The dome and walls of the chapel had suffered extensive deterioration due to infiltration of rain water from the roof that had caused the severe loss of the gilding layer and the erosion of some of the stone carvings. The lower strata of the walls had partially lost their gilding because of rising damp. Read more…
Restoration of the Cappella Ardente
The Chapelle Ardente is an elaborately carved wooden structure which used to be assembled in the centre of St John’s church on the occasion of the frequent solemn requiems held in the church to commemorate the demise of popes and important public figures associated with Catholic countries such as kings, queens and cardinals. The structure was commissioned by a French Knight Fra Joseph de Robins de Barbantane in 1726 to the Italian architect Romano Carapecchia and made by the Maltese craftsman Michele Camilleri. Read more…
Restoration of the Atriums
On the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation, the atriums leading to the north and south doorways were restored from January 2011 to 2015. Read more…
Restoration of the Chapel of Germany
The chapel of the langue of Germany underwent major restoration interventions in 2012. The restoration was sponsored by The Federal Republic of Germany. The project consisted of the restoration of the dome, wall carvings and two lunette paintings. The paintings depict ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’, ‘The Nativity’ and the titular painting of ‘The Adoration of the Magi’, . These were painted by the Maltese artist Stefano Erardi
Restoration of the Chapel of Aragon, Catalunia and Navarre
Between 2010 and 2011, the Chapel of the langue of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre underwent a major restoration intervention. Read more…
The wooden pulpit, now found in the nave on the north side of the Co-Cathedral, was placed in the church during the reign of Grand Master Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle (1582-1595). The pulpit has been attributed to the Italian sculptor Antonio Lazi from Piacenza. Read more…
St Lawrence lunette
The painting depicts The Martyrdom of St Lawrence which fits in one of the two lunettes of the chapel.
APS Bank took the initiative to sponsor the restoration of an important painting by Mattia Preti. The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation assisted in the restoration of the entire Chapel of the langue of Aragon. Read more…
The Nicolas Cotoner Monument
The sepulchral monument to Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner (elected in 1663-1680), situated in the Chapel of Aragon, underwent restoration in 2008 upon the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. Restoration works were sponsored by Shireburn Software Limited.
The marble monument was executed in Rome by Domenico Guidi (1625 –1701) and was assembled in the church in June of 1686. The gilt bronze bust of the Grand Master is here surrounded by one of the most outstanding collections of triumphal paraphernalia. The bust is carried by two Muslim slaves representing Asia and Africa. Read more…
The Grand Masters Crypt
The Grand Masters Crypt is currently undergoing restoration on the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.
The restoration of the crypt has been one of the major restoration concerns of the Foundation since 2003 when the Courtauld Institute, London, were brought over to assess the damage which the crypt had suffered over the years. The restoration of the crypt currently taking place is a great challenge on account of the various forms of deterioration it has suffered over the years. Read more…
Restoration and Conservation of the Tapestries
In 2006 two of a set of 29 priceless 18th Century Flemish Tapestries were sent to the De Wit Laboratories Belgium for restoration.
The Belgian Government provided the transport, with the assistance of the Belgian Ambassador to Malta, Thomas Baekelandt. Read more…
Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament
The restoration of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament which is situated adjacent to the high altar in St John’s Co-Cathedral was carried out under the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation and completed in March 2010. The walls and dome within the chapel suffered from water infiltration and rising damp which lead to salt migration and losses of paint and gilding. The interior carved walls and dome were cleaned and re-gilded. Read more…
St Francis Xavier, Mattia Preti
The restoration of the painting representing St Francis Xavier by Mattia Preti, situated in the chapel of Aragon, was carried out in 2010. The restoration of the painting was sponsored by Din L-Art Helwa, through the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. Read more…
St James, Mattia Preti
The altar-painting representing St James by Mattia Preti was restored in 2010 under the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation with the generous sponsorship of the National Student Travel Foundation.
St James Xavier is a powerful image of the type of monumental Baroque art produced in the late 17th century. The use of earth colours and exquisite draughtsmanship are typical of Mattia Preti’s mature style. Read more…
Arches of the Nave
St John’s Co-Cathedral has a barrel-vaulted nave buttressed with arches leading to side chapels. Each side chapel belongs to a specific langue of the Order, each responsible for the decoration of its own chapel. The walls were lavishly carved out of limestone to form relief carvings, gilded to create an aura of dazzling brilliance. Read more…
In 2008 The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation concluded the restoration of the Lascaris bell. This ambitious project took over 2 years. The bell cast in 1636 during the term of Grand Master Antoine de Paule was probably commissioned by Bailiff Jean Paul Lascaris de Castellar, successor of Grand Master De Paule. It was almost surely cast in the Foundry of the Order known as The Ferreria. Four armorial shields are found on the front, obverse and quarter points.
The Lascaris bell was originally installed in the façade arch of the northwest belfry. It is commonly thought that the bell was damaged due to war action, however cracks in its suspending cannons strongly indicate otherwise. It was last rung on the 24th August 1974 on the occasion of the funeral of Bishop Emmanuel Galea.
Flagellation of Christ
The Flagellation of Christ (383.5cm x 300.5cm) is a mannerist work by the Florentine artist Stefano Pieri painted in 1572.
The restoration of the painting began in October 2006 and was completed in May 2007. The painting had blackened to such a state that it became unidentifiable. During the restoration process the signature of the artist was also rediscovered, centuries after it was masked beneath layers of thick, darkened varnish which has now been restored.
The Oratory Organ
The 5th Italo-Maltese protocol funding also included financial assistance for the restoration of the late 16th century organ situated in the Oratory of the Co-Cathedral. Fratelli Ruffatti of Padova was commissioned for technical and scientific consultancy and the actual restoration of all the parts of the organ. Read more…
Chapel of Italy
The conservation and restoration project of this Chapel was made possible by the The 5th Financial Protocol. Read more…
St George and the Dragon
The painting of St George and the Dragon on the altarpiece of the Chapel of Aragon is one of Mattia Preti’s outstanding work.
St Charles Borromeo
The painting of St Charles Borromeo, hanging in the Chapel of the Anglo-Bavarian Langue, was in a poor state of preservation and needed restoration.
Christ the Saviour
The bronze sculpture depicting the image of Christ the Saviour was commissioned from the Roman Baroque sculptor Alessandro Algardi by the Italian Knight Fra Alessandro Zambeccari and arrived in Malta in August 1639. The cast was restored to its original state in a restoration intervention conducted between 2001 and 2002.
The High Altar, the Baptismal Group and the Gloria
The High Altar and the Gloria underwent restoration in 2000 with the collaboration of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter, the Ministry of Education, the Italian Embassy, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and St John’s Museum, under the direction of the Museums Department and the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta.
The gilt-silver and crystal ostensory is said to have been donated by the Spanish Knight Commander De Cardona of the Langue of Aragon in 1690 and is possibly of Milanese or of north Italian extraction. The assay mark belongs to the reign of Grand Master Adrien de Wignacourt (1690-1697).
The Ciro Ferri Tondo showing ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist
The Ciro Ferri Tondo showing ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist’
The bronze tondo by Ciro Ferri depicts ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist.’ It was placed in the centre of the antependium of the marble altar in the Oratory of the Beheading in St John’s Co-Cathedral in 1688. It was commissioned in order to complete the refurbishment project of the said Oratory initiated by Grand Master Gregorio Carafa (1680-90).
The Beheading of St John the Baptist
Restoration of one of Caravaggio’s most famous masterpieces began in April 1997 when it was sent to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence as the Comune di Firenze had offered to restore it.
Ciro Ferri Monstrance
The silver and gilt bronze reliquary which contained the right arm of St John the Baptist was commissioned by Grand Master Gregorio Carafa and was designed by Ciro Ferri in 1689.
It was made to be the crowning glory of the altar of the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, at St John’s Co-Cathedral.
St Jerome Writing
This masterpiece, also by Caravaggio, was sent to the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome in the 1960s to be relined. On the 29th December 1984 it was stolen and it was recovered on 4th August 1988.