Restoration - Works of Art Given a New Lease of LifeRestoration - Works of Art Given a New Lease of Life

One of the main objectives of The Foundation is to restore and conserve the priceless works of art in St John’s Co-Cathedral and Museum. The work involved is extremely specialised, time consuming and expensive, but also vital if such treasures of international importance are to be preserved for the appreciation of future generations. Below are links to the examples of our restoration works.


Restoration of the choir stalls and lectern

Restoration of the choir stalls and lectern commenced in November 2013 on the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. Works were entrusted to James Saliba and his team of restorers.

The choir was manufactured in walnut and chestnut wood in 1598, during the reign of Grand Master Fra Martin Garzes at the expense of the Grand Prior of the Church Giorgio Giampieri.

The restoration will entail cleaning the choir stalls from several layers of darkened varnish, dirt and grime followed by the repair of losses in the gilt decorative scheme. Repairs will be carried out on the carvings. The stalls will be treated against biological and insect infestation.

A layer of protective coating will be applied towards the latter stage of the restoration process. Read more...

Restoration of the chapels of France, Provence and Anglo-Bavaria

The chapels dedicated to the launges of France, Provence and Anglo-Bavaria are currently undergoing restoration. These are the final three chapels in St John’s Co-Cathedral to be restored.

The chapels of France and Provence are those closest to the main altar on the north side of the church whilst the Anglo-Bavarian chapel is attached to the chapel of Provence. Between 1663 and 1668 the knights of the French Langue held several meetings to discuss the re-decoration of their chapel which eventually led to its baroque modification. Documents note that the sculptors Domenico Gambin and Pietro Burlo were commissioned to carve the altar reredos, its columns, angels, coats-of-arms and steps. However the current decorative state of the chapel is reflective of a nineteenth century intervention led by the Nazarene artist Giuseppe Hyzler when  an attempt was made to simplify the baroque decoration. Read more...

Restoration of the Chapel of Auvergne 

The Restoration of the chapel of the langue of Auvergne was completed in May 2013 under the initiative of The St John's Co-Cathedral Foundation. The project consisted of the restoration of the gilded wall carvings, the  reredos and the two lunette paintings depicting The Martyrdom of St Sebastian and St Sebastian meeting Pope Pius Caius on his way to martyrdom, both by Giuseppe D’Arena, and the titular painting of The Martyrdom of St Sebastian attributed to Lucas Garnier.  Read more...

Restoration of the Lunette Wall Painting the Allegory of Triumph by Mattia Preti and the First Register of the Vault

The Allegory of the Triumph of the Order of St John painted on lunette over the main door forms part of the decorative scheme executed by the Calabrian artist Mattia Preti who was commissioned in 1661 to execute the life of St John on the vault of the Conventual Church. The artist used oil on stone technique that consisted of globigerina limestone soaked in linseed oil and painted with oil based pigments. Read more...

Restoration of the Chapel of Castille

The chapel of the langue of Castille underwent major restoration interventions in 2011. The restoration project consisted of the restoration of the dome and wall carvings.
The dome and walls of the chapel had suffered extensive deterioration due to infiltration of rain water from the roof that had caused the severe loss of the gilding layer and the erosion of some of the stone carvings. The lower strata of the walls had partially lost their gilding as a result of rising damp. Read more...

Restoration of the Capella Ardente

The Chapelle Ardente is an elaborately carved wooden structure which used to be assembled in the centre of St John’s church on the occasion of the frequent solemn requiems held in the church to commemorate the demise of popes and important public figures associated with Catholic countries such as kings, queens and cardinals. The structure was commissioned by a French Knight Fra Joseph de Robins de Barbantane in 1726 to the Italian architect Romano Carapecchia and made by the Maltese craftsman Michele Camilleri. Read more...

Restoration of the Chapel of Germany

The chapel of the langue of Germany underwent major restoration interventions in 2012.  The restoration was sponsored by The Federal Republic of Germany.  The project consisted of the restoration of the dome and wall carvings, two lunette paintings depicting The Massacre of the Innocents and The Nativity and the titular painting depicting The Adoration of the Magi, all works by the Maltese artist Stefano Erardi. Read more...

Restoration of the Cappella Ardente

The Cappella Ardente was made as a temporary structure made to service as a funerary monument mounted in the centre of the church to commemorate the demise of Popes, grand masters, Catholic Sovereigns and other church dignitaries. It is a large wooden structure held as many as 230 candles and decorated with funerary symbols. Read more...

Restoration of the Atriums 

The Atriums leading to the north and south doorways of St John’s Co-Cathedral have just undergone major restoration interventions on the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. Read more...

Restoration of the Chapel of Aragon, Catalunia and Navarre

The chapel of the langue of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre underwent major restoration interventions between 2010 – 2011. Read more...

The Pulpit

The wooden pulpit which is now found in the nave on the north side of the Co-Cathedral, was placed in the church during the reign of Grand Master Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle (1582-1595) and has been attributed to the Italian sculptor Antonio Lazi from Piacenza. Read more...

St Lawrence lunette

APS Bank has taken the initiative to sponsor the restoration of an important painting by Mattia Preti assisting The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation in its ambitious project to restore the entire Chapel of the langue of Aragon which commenced a few months ago. The painting depicting The Martyrdom of St Lawrence fits in one of the two lunettes of the chapel. Read more...

The Nicolas Cotoner Monument

The sepulchral monument to Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner (elected in 1663-1680), situated in the Chapel of Aragon, underwent restoration in 2008 upon the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.

The marble monument was executed in Rome by Domenico Guidi (1625 –1701) and was assembled in the church in June of 1686. The gilt bronze bust of the Grand Master is here surrounded by one of the most outstanding collections of triumphal paraphernalia, carried by two Muslim slaves representing Asia and Africa. Read more...

The Grand Masters Crypt

The Grand Masters Crypt is a subterranean chamber beneath the high altar of St John’s Co-Cathedral. It was created at the time the church was under construction in the late sixteenth century. It contains the remains of the first twelve Grand Masters who headed the Order between 1522 and 1623. Read more...

Restoration and Conservation of the Tapestries

In 2006 two of a set of 29 priceless 18th C Flemish Tapestries were sent to the De Wit Laboratories Belgium for restoration. The Belgian Government provided the transport, with the assistance of the Belgian Ambassador to Malta, Thomas Baekelandt. Read more...

Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament

The restoration of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament which is situated adjacent to the high altar in St John’s Co-Cathedral was carried out under the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation and completed in March 2010. The walls and dome within the chapel suffered from water infiltration and rising damp which lead to salt migration and losses of paint and gilding. Read more...

St Francis Xavier, Mattia Preti

The painting representing St Francis Xavier by Mattia Preti, situated in the chapel of Aragon, is currently undergoing restoration. Amongst the main problems from which the painting suffers are surface cracks caused by lack of cohesion in the preparatory paint layers. The painting is being restored by Giuseppe Mantella Restauri and sponsored by Din l’Art Helwa, through the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation. Read more...

St James, Mattia Preti

The painting representing St James by Mattia Preti is currently being restored under the initiative of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation with the generous sponsorship of the National Student Travel Foundation. Works have been entrusted to Giuseppe Mantella Restauri.

The painting was in desperate need of restoration as it had suffered from the ravages of time and showed serious signs of deterioration of the paint layer as well as the supporting canvas and frame. Read more...

Conservation/Restoration of the Arches of the Nave

St. John’s Co-Cathedral consists of a barrel -vaulted nave buttressed with arches leading to side chapels. Each side chapel belongs to a specific langue of the Order each responsible for the decoration of its own chapel. The walls of these chapels were lavishly carved out of limestone to form relief carvings, which were gilded creating an aura of dazzling brilliance.

Humidity as well as other contributing factors led to considerable deterioration of the surfaces. In 2006 The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation embarked on their restoration. This project was entrusted to Sante Guido. Read more...

Conservation/Restoration of the Lascaris Bell

In 2008 The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation concluded the restoration of the Lascaris bell. This ambitious project took over 2 years. The bell cast in 1636 during the term of Grand Master Antoine de Paule was probably commissioned by Bailiff Jean Paul Lascaris de Castellar, successor of Grand Master De Paule. It was almost surely cast in the Foundry of the Order known as the Ferreria.  Four armorial shields are found on the front, obverse and quarter points.

The Lascaris bell was originally installed in the façade arch of the northwest belfry. It is commonly thought that the bell was damaged due to war action, however cracks in its suspending cannons strongly indicate otherwise. Read more...

Conservation/Restoration of the Flagellation of Christ

The Flagellation of Christ (383.5cmx300.5cm) is a mannerist work by the Florentine artist Stefano Pieri painted in 1572. It is not known whether Pieri, who worked with Giorgio Vasari, visited the island and executed the work here or if it came to the island as a complete work.  The painting hangs above the altar of the sacristy in St John’s Co-Cathedral, it was however painted prior to the building of the church and is recorded to have initially been hanging in the chapel of the Langue of England in the last years of the 16th Century before being transferred to the Sacristy. Read more...

The Oratory Organ

The 5th Italo-Maltese protocol funding also included financial assistance for the restoration of the early 17th century organ situated in the Oratory of the Co-Cathedral.  Fratelli Ruffatti of Padova was commissioned for technical and scientific consultancy and the actual restoration of all the parts of the organ. The restoration of the organ case was entrusted to M C Restauri of Noto. Read more...

Chapel of Italy

The 5th Financial Protocol, signed between the Government of Malta and the Government of the Republic of Italy, made possible the conservation and restoration of the Chapel of Italy.  This project was entrusted to the Ditta Sante Guido Restauri of Rome and was completed in November 2005.

St George and the Dragon

Mattia Preti’s outstanding painting of St George and the Dragon, which is the altarpiece of the Chapel of Aragon, had such serious and urgent preservation problems that it was sent for restoration to the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome. The process started in January 2004.

In April 2005, to commemorate the completion of its restoration, the painting was exhibited in its full splendour, first in Rome, and then again in an exhibition in the Co-Cathedral on its return to Malta.

St Charles Borromeo

The painting of St Charles Borromeo, hanging in the Chapel of the Anglo-Bavarian Langue, was in a poor state of preservation and needed restoration. Its restoration was sponsored by Heritage Malta and was carried out by professional restorers at the National Museum of Fine Arts. Read more...

Christ the Saviour

The bronze sculpture depicting the image of Christ the Saviour was commissioned from the Roman Baroque sculptor Alessandro Algardi by the Italian Knight Fra Alessandro Zambeccari and arrived in Malta in August 1639. The cast was restored to its original state in a restoration intervention conducted between 2001 and 2002. Read more...

The High Altar, the Baptismal Group and the Gloria

The High Altar and the Gloria underwent restoration in 2000 with the collaboration of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter, the Ministry of Education, the Italian Embassy, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and St John’s Museum, under the direction of the Museums Department and the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta. Restorations were entrusted to Sante Guido. The High altar restoration consisted of the cleaning of the miniature angels, gilt bronze statuettes of vine leaves and corn ears as well as an extensive clean-up of the altar’s precious marble. Read more...

Ostensories

The gilt-silver and crystal ostensory is said to have been donated by the Spanish Knight Commander De Cardona of the Langue of Aragon in 1690 and is possibly of Milanese or of north Italian extraction. The unique monstrance was donated by Comm. Cesare Ferro of Tarento in 1649. Read more...

The Ciro Ferri Tondo showing ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist’

The bronze tondo by Ciro Ferri depicts ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist.’ It was placed in the centre of the antependium of the marble altar in the Oratory of the Beheading in St John’s Co-Cathedral in 1688. It was commissioned in order to complete the refurbishment project of the said Oratory initiated by Grand Master Gregorio Carafa (1680-90). Read more...

The Beheading of St John the Baptist

Restoration of one of Caravaggio’s most famous masterpieces began in April 1997 when it was sent to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence as the Comune di Firenze had offered to restore it. Read more...

Ciro Ferri Monstrance

The silver and gilt bronze reliquary which contained the right arm of St John the Baptist was commissioned by Grand Master Gregorio Carafa and was designed by Ciro Ferri in 1689. It was made to be the crowning glory of the altar of the Oratory of the San Giovanni Decollato, St John’s Co-Cathedral. Read more...

St Jerome Writing

This masterpiece, also by Caravaggio, was sent to the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome in the 1960s to be relined. On the 29th December 1984 it was stolen and it was recovered on 4th August 1988. Two years later, the canvas, damaged when the burglars cut the painting out of its frame, was sent for restoration once again to the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro.