- In 1798 the Catholic Knights of the Order of Saint John were banished from the Maltese islands by Napoleon Bonaparte and his French troops. In 1800 the British took over Malta and ruled the islands during the next two centuries. Scores of British visitors, amongst them artists, sailed into the Grand Harbour on their Tour of Europe and the Orient.A new aesthetic, different from the previous style of the Baroque, determined the style of 19th century Maltese seascape and landscape paintings -one that was principally concerned with communicating a sense of atmosphere, possibly an emotionally-charged one. This was one aspect of the Romantic movement one of whose exponents with respect to landscape and seascape painting was J.M.W. Turner (1775/1851) in England. His painting depicting the Grand Harbour of Malta in this room is one of the highlights of this Museum`s Collection.Among the painters who visited Malta during the 19th century was David Roberts (1796-1864), who stopped in Malta in June 1839 on his return journey from Egypt and the Holy Land. His signed watercolour Grand Harbour also exhibited in this room is one of two known works representing Malta (the second one is in the National Gallery of Scotland). Another prominent British painter to visit Malta between 1865 and 1866 was the poet Edward Lear (1812-1888) on one of his many journeys in the Mediterranean. The painting of the Inquisitors Palace is a finished watercolour intended as a complete work, in the frame and mount that Lear chose himself. The others are studies of Maltese landscape ( Fungus Rock, Gozo; Xlendi Gozo; Gran Fontana, Rabat Gozo; St. Julians Bay; Rabat Gozo) and one sicilian (Calatafini, 1847) view that show an emphases on lighting and chiaroscuro, as well as inscriptions by the artist to aid his memory when executing the complete work in his studio. The painting of the Storm in the Grand Harbour by Thomas Lyde Hornbrook (1780-1850) bears a great similarity to compositions by his contemporary, the Maltese artist Giovanni Schranz. As little is known about Hornbrook it is uncertain whether the painting was executed in Malta or whether the artist may have based his composition on the work of another. Marine views in watercolours and oils by John Wilson Carmichael (1800-1868) were widely admired, and where often the subject of engravings, such as the one based on the Grand Harbour showing the busy activity of the harbour with warships and other sailing vessels. Carmichael was in Malta on his way as a war artist to the Crimea in 1855 and at least one other Maltese work in oils by this artist is known. Little is known about the British artist Col. V. Godfrey whose watercolours of Malta were painted mainly around 1890 to 1910. His signed View of Marsa Creek from Fort St. Angelo demonstrates the artists delicate and atmospheric treatment of the subject, faithful to the century-old style of Turner.
- Repository/Location: National Museum of Fine Arts (Valletta, Malta)
- 19th century [Create]
References and relations