Artist | Art Historian

Episode 8
Christ the King, Antonio Sciortino


8/39  The monument of Christ the King by Antonio Sciortino is a significant landmark recalling a very important event in Malta’s jubilee celebrations marking the beginning of the 20th century, and the Holy Year 1900 dedicated to Christ the Redeemer. It commemorates the Eucharistic Congress of 1913 which was a very important event involving the participation of not less than five cardinals and 39 archbishops from all over the world. Sciortino creates a majestic monument just outside the entrance to the capital city. The rendering of the surface of the bronze figures is impressionistic while the facial features of Christ were treated with finesse to emphasise and attract attention.

Episode 4
Death Awaits Us All

4/10  For centuries artists created art to commemorate the deceased as well as art for the living reminding us that death awaits us all. From early rock-cut tombs to modern day monuments, the fourth episode of The Art of Malta recounts the islands' experience of death.

Episode 16

Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos, Valletta, Malta


16/39  The first chapel on the south side of the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was the first one to be given a particular devotion. The chapel housed the icon of the Virgin of Philermos that the knights had brought with them from Rhodes. The icon was believed to be miraculous and drew great devotion especially before battle when the knights would congregate and pray for the intercession of the Virgin Mary.


When they returned victorious they would again congregate in the chapel and give thanks and present the keys of the conquered fortresses to the Virgin. The keys to the fortresses of Lepanto, Passava, Hammet and Patras are still present within the chapel.

Episode 13

Death of St Joseph, Msida Parish Church, Malta


13/39 “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11, 25) Three artists were involved in the embellishment of the Msida Church ceiling: Anton Inglott, Emvin Cremona and Raymond Pitre’. These works mark a turning point in Maltese art, with the most talented Anton Inglott who was one of the most significant figures in the history of the twentieth century Maltese painting. He injected the artistic scenario with a new verve – an artistic style that no one had ever dreamed of even coming close to.


Unfortunately, his untimely demise halted and interrupted the works in the church.

Episode 14

Interview: Nathaneal Theuma (artist)



14/39 Hilary Spiteri interviews Maltese artist Nathanael Theuma.

Episode 15

Baptism of Christ, Valletta, Malta, Guzeppe Mazzuoli


15/39  Mazzuoli carried out some major commissions for the Order of Malta, most noticeably the main altar of St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, finished in 1703. There, he created a marble group of the Baptism of Christ which might on the one hand have been influenced by Cafà's undocumented and abandoned designs from 1666, and it is certainly strongly dependent on a small baptism group by Alessandro Algardi. In the same church, he produced in his later years allegorical figures for the tomb of Ramon Perellos y Roccaful (died 1720), Grand Master of the Order of Malta.


The Series



Presented by Hilary Spiteri
Produced & Directed by Oliver Mallia
Camera / Lighting by Matthew Muscat Drago & Massimo Denaro
Written by Hilary Spiteri, Oliver Mallia and Rebecca Anastasi
Re-Recording Mixing by Manolito Galea
Graphics & Visual Effects by Andres Algeciras Marquez
A Pellikola Production
Supported by Arts Council Malta through the Kultura TV fund.
The Art of Malta is a 10-part documentary series about the history of art in Malta explored through different themes and masterworks. Presented by art historian and educator Hilary Spiteri, the series aims at explaining how art, through its various forms, culturally shaped Malta and the Maltese.

The series covers an array of subjects ranging from the joys of life to death and beyond, traditions, artistic patronage, identity and propaganda. Spiteri journeys around the islands and other prominent European cities visiting different museums, places of interest and private homes, exposing a select number of masterpieces done by Maltese or artist that worked on the islands.


Episode 1
Is-Santwarju tal-Madonna fil-Mellieħa

1/39  Tradition has it that the painting was made by St Luke when he was shipwrecked on the island with St Paul, but recent studies have shown it to be a work following a Siculo-Byzantinesque (Byzantinesque in inspiration and Sicilian in style influence) idiosyncrasy. Most probably it was painted during the 14th century by a foreign artist, possibly from Sicily.

Episode 2
Ex Voto


2/39  An ex-voto is a votive offering to a saint or to a divinity. It is donated in fulfillment of a vow (hence the Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made") or in gratitude or devotion. The earliest known votive paintings are believed to be those found in Naples and go back to the second half of the sixteenth century. By this time the Council of Trent (1545-63) had revitalized the popular Marian cult.

Episode 3

St Paul's Shipwreck, Giuseppe Cali, Mellieħa


3/39  The third episode happening on World Mission Day, the painting by Giuseppe Cali representing St Paul and the advent of Christianity in Malta. St Paul as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles, the apostle who travels into three separate journeys spreading the good word. On his way to martyrdom he was forced to stop in Malta and the rest is history.

Episode 4
All Saints


4/39  Since the dawn of Christianity, saints in Malta were profoundly worshiped. The very first worshiped saints pertain to the cult of the East whereas with the Latinisation process, brought forth by the Normans, amplified the list of saints, including those worshiped across the Mediterranean. The Church in Malta has always fueled the worship of saints as intermediaries between us and God; between man and the Supreme. Saints are celebrated and evoked. Small churches across the Islands were built, niches carved out in facades, relics exposed on altars, confraternities founded … and the list goes on …

Episode 5
All Souls


5/39  “For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19. A very particular day in calendar of the Church commemorating all those who parted this world. Despite of the loss, faith drives us in believing that this temporal world is only a preparation to what is to be in the after world. During Medieval times the church professed the Fear of God and apocalyptic scenarios were depicted. Nowadays the Church focuses more on the festal aspect of the souls’ departure to a place of eternal glory and bounty.

The Series


IMMAĠNI, a socio-religious programme, in which Hilary Spiteri, in the role of an Art Historian, tours some of Malta's iconic places to explore a variety of works of art and discuss their artistic, historical and religious relevance.

The programme is presented by Christine Delicata and produced by ĊPI MEDIA.
Presented by Hilary Spiteri
Produced & Directed by CPI Media & Marthese Brincat
Camera / Lighting by Paul Jones, Louis Mallia & Baskal Mallia
Written by Hilary Spiteri
Re-Recording Mixing by CPI Media
A CPI Media Production

Episode 6
Grand Master L'Isle Adam's Chalice


6/39  A beautiful 16th Century chalice made in Paris boasting of fine work with a chasing and exquisitely delicate relief decorations of vine shoots and tendrils are of superior quality. The chalice is presumably a stray from the treasure of the conventual church.

Episode 7
Columnar Cross, Howard Gardens, Rabat MALTA

7/39  “Min m'għandux salib għandu domna!” Many crosses are linked to a number of traditions or events which took place annually in parishes, while others still are thought to have been built to commemorate a particularly important figure or historical happening. At times it is also popularly known as is-Salib tad-Dejma. This nomenclature takes us back to Medieval times when the Maltese used to organize some sort of Militia according to towns of origin in order to defend their town and coastal area from any possible attacks from raiders coming by sea.

Episode 9
Knights Hospitaller, the building of Valletta and the St John's Co Cathedral


9/39  The Hospitaller Knights settled in Malta in 1530 were they continued their actions against the Muslims and especially the Barbary pirates. Although they had only a few ships they quickly drew the ire of the Ottomans, who were unhappy to see the order resettled. In 1565 Suleiman sent an invasion force of about 40,000 men to besiege the 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers and expel them from Malta and gain a new base from which to possibly launch another assault on Europe. The Knights came out victorious of what is known as the Great Siege of Malta. As a result, St John’s Co-Cathedral was built by the Knights of Malta between 1573 and 1578, having been commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the conventual church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John.

Episode 10
The Beheading of St John the Baptist, Caravaggio

10/39  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was ordained as a Knight of St John after a 1 year novitiate of joining the holy chivalric order. As a passaggio, Caravaggio donated his largest canvas and the only one ever signed by the artist representing the Beheading of St John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Order.

Episode 11

Ceiling Co Cathedral of St John, Valletta, Mattia Preti


11/39 The decoration of the barrel vault began in 1660. Mattia Preti, here, used oil-based paint and applied it directly onto the stone.  For the next six years Preti toiled with the rest of the vault. He ingeniously used its six bays to fit his narrative cycle. Each bay is subdivided into three sections.


The story of St John starts from the first bay at the main door with the vision of the priest Zachary and ends with the beheading of the saint in the sixth and last bay to the right of the altar.

Episode 12

Adoration of the Magi, Valletta, Malta, Stefano Erardi



12/39 The Adoration of the Magi produced in the 17th century by Maltese artist Stefano Erardi. Erardi’s art is stylistically rooted in tradition of Bolognese painters of the early seicento. He was one of Malta's leading native artists, who, although bred in a Late Mannerist idiom, his art matured significantly after the advent of Mattia Preti (1613-99) in Malta in the 1660's.


The painting was produced for the chapel of the Langue of Allemagne, as it was referred to during the time of the Knights. The chapel was originally assigned to the Langue of England. It was however re-assigned to the Langue of Germany in the Chapter General of 1603, when the Church of England was established.

Episode 20

Interview: Joe Saliba (artist)


20/39 Hilary Spiteri interviews artist Joe Saliba born in Qormi, Malta.

Episode 17

Interiew: Vincent Borg (artist)



17/39 Hilary Spiteri interviews artist Vincent Borg. He is struck by the works of the major exponents of the Russian avant-garde movements Suprematism and Constructivism, that marked the beginning of the 20th century. Lately, his endeavours were mainly focused on developing abstract images characterised by geometric shapes, hard edges and flat colours.

Episode 19

Statue of St Paul, Valletta, Malta, Melchiorre Cafa


19/39 Melchiorre Cafa establishes himslef in Rome c.1658 where he produced the statue of St Paul in c.1659 and sent it to Malta. The work was origanally commissioned by either the Bonnici or Testaferrata families. It was produced in the studio of Ercole Ferrata in Rome and later donates to the Church of St Paul Shipwreck, Valletta.

An early work by Cafa and still under the influence of the Roman Baroque Classical Style by Alessandro Algardi.

Episode 18

Church dedicated to the Holy Family, St Venera, Malta, Lazzaro Pisani


18/39 Pisani (1854-1932) is considered one of Malta's most important artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He started his studies with Mikiel Bellanti and Nazju Cortis and won a scholarship at the Accademia di San Luca and the British Academy in Rome. His career was, however, largely overshadowed by Giuseppe Calì (1846-1930) who netted some of the most lucrative and prestigious commissions. In spite of having such a formidable competitor, Pisani got his fair share of sacred art and portrait work.

Episode 1
On Body And Soul

1/10  Starting from the anthropomorphic figures found at the temples of Ġgantija to Caesar Attard's live participation art in the 1970s we try and understand what the The Art of Malta says about who we are today.
Episode 2
Matters Of The Heart

2/10  Have you ever wondered what love is? Ancient Greeks and The Art of Malta make a great combination to help you understand it.
Episode 3
And Then There Was Light

3/10  From neolithic temples to a protestant cathedral, the Maltese islands are peppered with places dedicated to many gods. Retrace the islands' connection to the divine.

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