Restorer Erika Falzon and art historian Dr Martina Caruana gave the Banif team a fascinating insight into the work being done on a four panel Medieval altarpiece, in a project initiated by Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) and supported by Banif Bank. The talk was held at the beautiful Augustinian Priory in Rabat, and was preceded by a guided tour of the cloister.
The four-panel altarpiece is thought to rank among Malta’s foremost art treasures due to the fine quality of the work, in a country where so few pieces of Medieval art are to be found. Painted on wood in the early 15th century by an unknown Italian or Sicilian master, the surviving panels, which probably came from a larger polyptych, feature St Augustine, St Paul or St Mark, St Catherine and the Madonna and the Christ child on the central panel. The work is highly decorative in style, boasting a tooled gold background. The panels are unfortunately in a poor state of conservation and FAA’s timely involvement will help ensure that the panels do not deteriorate even further.
“Delving into the layers of these works of art helps us understand how they were made and in what historical context, throwing light on the tradition, folklore and social norms of years long gone,” said Karl Dingli, Head of Corporate Services at Banif Bank. “It is for all these reasons that Banif has supported the important conservation project on these invaluable works of art. It is simply fascinating to see history unfold as one layer of painting after another is discovered and details invisible to the naked eye start showing up.”
The restoration is expected to take approximately three years to complete, after which the works will be displayed to the public.