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Magnificent! Conservation of Mattia Preti’s ‘Virgin of the Pillar’ at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta is now complete
Mattia Preti also transformed the interior of the church with a huge series of paintings on the life and martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Francesca Vella

The lunette, a term used to describe a semicircular painting, ‘Virgin of the Pillar’ by renowned Italian artist Mattia Preti that resides in St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta has completed its conservation process.

Mattia Preti created the painting between the years 1662 and 1666, and depicts the Virgin of the Pillar greeting St James during his apostolic preaching in Spain.

The conservation process consisted of cleaning of the surface, followed by the filling in of areas of paint loss and preparation for retouching. Then, a thin retouching varnish is applied to saturate the colours, while the areas of paint loss are treated with reversible paints by first matching the colours and then applying them using specialised techniques to ensure an even surface. This part of the process is essential for the legibility of the painting’s iconography.

The final step involves the application of a coat of protective varnish. When this final coat dried, the painting was prepared to be hung back in its previous place, which is the Chapel of Castille, Leon and Portugal located on the south side of the church.

Have you ever seen this painting by Mattia Preti?

21st June 2024


Francesca Vella
Written by
Francesca Vella
Francesca has always felt most at home in a cinema or theatre, particularly if musicals are involved. She loves to read, write, and share about her experiences of both the fictional and the real world.

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