This book tells the stories of ‘Maltese’ treasures lost and found. The first chapter explores the history of the de Vallette helmet previously in the prestigious Odescalchi Collection. The rest of the book opens the doors of secretive collections describing important privately owned antiques; from rare Romano-Maltese coins and ancient artefacts to unpublished portraits of Knights and from exceptional portraits to precious pieces of Maltese silver and Maltese furniture.
The authors try to bridge the gap between antique collecting and academic research by publishing artefacts of immense historical significance and some of the finest ‘Maltese’ antiques in private collections; the oldest known portraits of Grandmasters L’ Isle Adam and Verdala, majestic Maiolica and ceramics, important manuscripts, unpublished Maltese views and works of art attributed to Old Masters.
Maltese private collections are impressive incorporating objects that are identical to pieces kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the British Museum, the Museum of London, the Royal Collection, the Landesmuseum of Brunswick and other important collections. Items deserving special mention include museum quality oriental ceramics from the ‘Ming Gap’, unpublished works by Gianni, Schranz and Brockdorff, magnificent baroque paintings, musical scores by famous Maltese composers, exceptional Militaria, items associated with Grandmasters and famous political leaders, some of the largest pieces of Maltese domestic silver that are known to exist, and the arms and armour of the Knights of Malta and their foes.
This book brings to light a rare account of the French invasion of Malta, a curious manuscript documenting Grandmaster de Rohan’s admission of a French Countess to the Order of Malta, the world’s second largest collection of ship portraits by Camilleri and many other treasures that are behind closed doors. State Museums and private collectors are working hard to return Malta’s lost treasures because important Maltese pieces are being traded on the international market. This book discusses the phenomenon of ‘collecting history’ studying interesting Melitensia that has recently been offered for sale, from the de Rohan musket to ‘Christie’s Judith with the head of Holofornes’.
CONTENTS: Introducing ‘Antiquiting’ by Judge Emeritus and collector Giovanni Bonello; Is this de Valette’s helmet?: Lost Treasure • The Grandmaster’s Helmet • The Publication of the Odescalchi Collection • Is this Jean de Valette’s helmet? • But is the
helmet original? Could the escutcheon be a forgery? •Is this de Valette’s lost helmet? • The issue with the helmet’s provenance • Laking and his reputation • Going Forward; Terracotta and Stoneware: An Interesting Roman Saucer (c.200 AD) • A Fragment
from a Roman Opus Scutulatum (c.125 to 50 BC) • Neolithic Antiquities • Egyptian Antiquities • Exceptional German Stoneware; Maiolica and other Tin-Glazed Ceramics: Brilliant Lusterware • Museum-Quality, Hispano-Moresque Ware • Maiolica • An aarly Maolica Tazza (1680-1700); Oriental Artefacts: The Oldest Oriental Piece in a Maltese Collection (c.AD. 960 and 1127) • Ceramics from the Ming Gap • Sukhotai Fish Bowl c.1370 • Fine Sisatchanalai Celadon (c.1460) • A Parrot bowl and Other Precious Ceramics from the Hoi An Hoard (c.1480) • Yixing Teapots (1830) • Ming Duck Plates c.1625 • The Quality of Imperial Ware (c.1830) • Horse-Riders from the Ca Mau c.1725 • Fine Crockery from the Ca Mau c.1725 • A Fine Punjabi Helmet c.1800 • Ottoman Arms and Armour • A Persian lusterware jug from Rayy, Iran, c.1200; Fire, Arms and Armour: A ‘Petto Forte a Prova di Moschetto’ (c.1658) • A Composite Late 16th Century Suit of Armour • The Helmet of the Great Siege c.1560-1580 • A Helmet of the type known as ‘Alla Viscontea’ c.1630 • Funerary Helmets c.1550-1600 • A ‘Knight’s Pistol’ c.1759 • A Finely Engraved Saxon Powder Flask as used by the Knights of Malta (c.1608) • A Helmet for the Gioco del Ponte Tournament (c.1520-1650) • A Very Early Italian Burgonet c.1520 • The East India Company and the Napoleonic Wars (c.1790-1815); Fine Portraits: A Portrait of Paul de La Rivoire dated 1669 • Works of the Favray School • The Oldest Known Portrait of Grandmaster L’ Isle Adam (Sixteenth Century) • Important Modern Works of Art; Maltese Views – ‘veduti’: A Large Harbour View by Giovanni Schranz (c.1830) • A Naïf Watercolour from the Early British Period (c.1800) • More Unpublished Artists Who Painted Malta • Robert Baden-Powell, A Painter of Maltese Subjects • One of the Largest Known Collections of Cammillieri Ship Portraits • An Unpublished Maltese View by Krasnoff (c.1920) • Claude H. Rowbotham’s Earliest Known Harbour-View (1892) • An Imaginary Mons Harbour-View (c.1820); Old Masters: Christie’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes (17th Century) • Works of the the Preti School (17th Century) • The Oldest Known Portrait of Cardinale Verdala, Circle of Filippo Paladini (17th Century) • A Curious 17th Century Sketch • More Old Masters • A Kurċifiss tax-Xitan (17th Century) • A Finely-Etched Comb Morion by Claiessens c.1600; Numismatica and Exonumia: An original Bolla Capitolare of the Knights of Saint John c.1500 • Byzantine Coins • Unpublished Maltese Romano-Punic Coins; Furniture and Silver: Knights’ Chairs (19th Century) • A Spectacular Inlaid bureau (c.1700) • An Interesting Dutch Chest of Drawers (c.1700) • A Fine Pair of Late Seventeenth Century Maltese Armchairs • Maltese Coffers Carved with Grandmasters’ Coat-of-Arms • An Imposing Seventeenth Century Cupboard • A Maltese Seventeenth Century Commode • Silver Lampadas • The Ximenes Salver (1774); Twentieth Century Memorabilia: The First World War • A Demobilisation Certificate signed by Methuen •More Silk-Work Pictures • Great War Helmets • Artefacts belonging to the King’s Own Malta Regiment’s Bandmaster • The Second World War • Second World War Art • Prisoner of War Souvenirs • A Large Fragment from a Junkers 88 A-5 German Bomber • Second World War Military Helmets • A ‘Maltese Document’ Signed by a Mussolini Henchman • Post-War Personality Items • The Ensign of the Governor of Malta’s Motor Boat; Books, Manuscripts and Curiosa: A Curious Sketch Book • A Rare Account of the French Invasion of Malta • An Interesting Napoleonic Caricature • Documents from the Saint-Allais Archives • A Passport Embossed with Malta’s First British Coat-of-Arms • Documents signed by Prince of Paterno’s Fiefdom over the islands of Malta and Gozo • A ‘Maltese’ Document Signed by Pietro Nenni • A Papier-mâché Statue – La Pescatrice Maltese • A Papier Mâché and Painted Wood Statue – A German Knight of Malta • Costume; Epilogue: A Virtual Museum • Artefacts Chosen for Publication • The de Valette helmet, an enigma • The de Rohan Musket • Printed Matter of Historical Importance • Exceptional Late Arrivals •An Eighteenth Century manuscript documenting the admission of a French Countess to the Order of Malta • A Music Score by Nicolò Isouard • The Graham Uniform • Heritage in Peril • The Market • Architectural Antiques • A Word on Fakes and Forgeries • Items of Museum Quality