Culture
‘Missing’ 400-year-old frescoes discovered in Valletta
No artist has been officially attributed to the frescoes just yet.

Emma Galea

A cycle of fresco paintings that date back to the rule of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt (1601 – 1622) have been discovered at the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta as it undergoes restoration works.

The 400-year-old frescoes had been assumed lost as historians only knew they existed by word of mouth.

heritage malta

The paintings were fatefully found on the uppermost parts of the walls of the bedroom that Grand Masters used during the summer months. The restoration workers stumbled upon on them while they were removing an early 18th century canvas painting.

No painter has yet been officially attributed to the frescoes, but they could possibly be the work of Leonello Spada (1576 – 1622) who was responsible for the decoration of three other rooms in the palace at the time of Grand Master Wignacourt.

The fresco remains are thought to date back to this period, since Alof de Wignacourt’s coat of arms features prominently in them.

Each fresco is separated from the adjoining one by a pair of painted Doric columns and features a putto standing on a balustrade, alternately holding the eight-pointed cross, a coronet, a cross, and a fleur-de-lys.

During the rule of Grand Master Jean Paul Lascaris de Castellar (1636 – 1657), some modifications were made in the lower register, with the introduction of the Lascaris coat of arms on a different decorative background.

The frescoes will be consolidated and conserved by Heritage Malta while restoration works on the Grand Master’s palace will continue.

The initial phase of the restoration is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with the entire project being ready by 2025. This is Heritage Malta’s most extensive project to date.

27th September 2022


Emma Galea
Written by
Emma Galea
Emma is a Gozitan writer who loves all things related to English literature and history. When not busy studying or writing you will either find her immersed in a fictional book or at the cinema trying to watch as my films as she possibly can!

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