A Mattia Preti painting that hangs in Żurrieq’s Parish Church is to be restored, with restoration works slated for completion by the third quarter of 2022. 

Restoration of Preti’s Saints Roque, Blaise, Dominic and Nicholas of Tolentino interceding for the plague stricken will be financed by the Malta Airport Foundation – an NGO set up under the aegis of Malta International Airport but run by an independent board of administrators. 

The 1676 work depicts the four saints mentioned in its name, as well as other figures, across almost four metres in height and two metres in width. It is one of seven works of art by the Baroque artist to adorn the Parish Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Żurrieq. 

Restorers will remove discoloured varnish and layers of overpaint, including excessive highlights, to better reveal the original work. 

The painting has been dismantled from its frame to allow for its rear, or verso, to be treated, to provide sufficient stability to the canvas support.  All steps of the restoration proċess will be documented, to give future researchers as much text and visual information as possible. 

Painting conservator Anthony Spagnol, who is leading the conservation and restoration team, said that the work is in dire need of restoration. 

“It was found to be heavily abraded and extensively overpainted to such an extent that, in some areas, the hand of Preti has been concealed,” he said. Restorers hope to uncover as muc of the original as possible. 

Spagnol will lead a team that is also comprised of Sephora Borg and Jeanelle Lentini

Malta Airport Foundation CEO Josef Formosa Gauci said that the Foundation was keen to shine a spotlight on local villages, “particularly Żurrieq”, to showcase their culture, art and authentic experiences to both locals and tourists. 

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