Giuseppe Cali (1846-1930) who was born to a Neapolitan family which had settled in Malta some time before, is widely considered as the most prolific artist that Malta has ever produced.
He showed a precocious talent in art. After a two-year sojourn in Naples where he was sent through the help of a Maltese benefactor and where he successfully assimilated the influence of Domenico Morelli, he returned to his native island where he soon embarked on an illustrious career, immediately giving a new twist to the character of Maltese painting. His longevity was another factor that helped him to leave an indelible mark on a significant chapter of art history in Malta.
Another Maltese artist, Ignazio Carlo Cortis, with whom he jointly decorated the ceilings of the Parish Churches of Lija and Vittoriosa, used to refer to him as ‘the devil of the brush’. Indeed, Cali’s copious output, apart from his religious paintings scattered in several churches in Malta and Gozo, also includes numerous portraits, landscapes, genre scenes, caricatures and even a few sculptures.
Together with its profuse illustrations, this comprehensive assessment of the artist and his outstanding contribution to Maltese art shows the secret behind his great popularity with patrons and the people at large, not only in his time but right up to this day.