- The Italian biographer G. P. Bellori in 1672 had described two portraits of Wignacourt by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). One in the Palace Armoury showing him standing in armour and the other represented him seated in the habit of the Grand Masters. Most probably this painting was the first of the two portraits, however, wrongly attributed to Caravaggio. The Louvre portrait by Caravaggio depicting 'Alof de Wignacourt and a Page' of c. 1607 had already been in France for at least 20 to 40 years, so the biographer Bellori must have been mistaken when he attributed the portrait now at the National Museum of Fine Arts to Caravaggio. None of the early written or visual sources suggest that Caravaggio made more than one full length portraits, thus the attribution must have been mistaken and the artist of this portrait is today still unfortunately unknown.
- This full length portrait depicts Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt (1601- 1622) at an advanced age, wearing a luxury, ceremonial suit of armour painted with a meticulous concern for detail. The suit was originally acquired from Milan by the Grand Master in around 1602, shortly after his accession to the Magistracy and it is today preserved in the National Armoury at the Grand Masters Palace in Valletta. He holds a commanders baton in one hand while the other rests on the pommel of his sword. Nearby is a still life composed of a helmet, surcoat, and a shield charged with the Grand Masters coat of arms. The portrait must have been considered Wignacourt`s official portrait as various copies were made of it.The magistracy of this Grand Master was highlighted by repeated successes in maritime campaigns against the Turks. He had personally funded a number of military structures around Malta whilst ensuring a continuous supply of fresh water for the then recently built fortified city of Valletta by means of an aqueduct also built at his own expense. He was also the Grand Master who had commissioned Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) to execute his masterpieces in Malta.
- Repository/Location: National Museum of Fine Arts (Valletta, Malta)
- : 232 x 152 cm (without frame)
- Baroque [Create]
- c.1615 [Create]
References and relations
- Bibliography: Caravaggio and paintings of realism in Malta / edited by Cynthia De Giorgio and Keith Sciberras. - Valletta : Midsea Books, 2007. [Copy of the painting ]