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Two pieces from the largest set of tapestries woven during the Baroque Age return to Malta
The tapestries were commissioned by Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful.

Emma Galea

On Monday, 14th November 2022, two unique tapestries woven on the cartoons of world-renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens returned to Malta following restoration in Belgium.

The two tapestries, forming part of a set of twenty-nine, were the last two tapestries sent for restoration to the Royal Manufacturers De Wit Laboratories in Belgium in 2017.

They depict the Annunciation and the Four Evangelists. The set was flown courtesy of Challenge Group, an international air cargo conglomeration operating for its first time in Malta.

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation

The project started in 2006 when the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation sent the first set of tapestries to the Royal Manufacturers De Wit Laboratories in Belgium for restoration.

The tapestry was commissioned by Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful who had just been elected Grand Master and wished to furnish the Knights’ Conventual Church of St John in Valletta with a series of tapestries to be hung on specific feasts days.

The set which also happens to be the largest set of tapestries woven during the Baroque Age, reached St John’s Con-Cathedral in 1702.

They had originally been woven in Brussels by the tapestry merchant and weaver Judocus de Vos in the late seventeenth century.

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation

Fourteen large tapestries, each measuring just short of seven metres in width, depict scenes from the life of Christ and allegories portraying the Triumph of the Eucharist.

Another fourteen smaller panels represent the Virgin Mary, Christ the Saviour, and the Apostles. One tapestry portrays the benefactor, Grand Master Perellos.

They were all woven in pure silk and wool and since textiles are susceptible to deterioration from handling and being exposed to UV light, their restoration had become necessary to preserve them.  

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation

The extension of the museum which is currently underway will house this collection of tapestries all together in the Tapestries Chamber. The chamber itself has an ideal environment as it makes use of adequate lighting, climate control and didactic means.

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation went on to thank all those who helped in restoring these tapestries to their former glory. This included the Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Clint Tanti, Mr Edward Micallef, the general manager of the Challenge Group and Captain Christopher Pace who together organised the return of the tapestries. It also went on to thank De Wit Laboratories in Belgium, Transpak Malta, the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects and the Ministry for The National Heritage, The Arts and local Government.

16th November 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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