12 Of The Coolest Maltese Paintings From Throughout The Ages

Covering everything from horses to noospheres


Malta's artistic history is just like the country's actual history - it belies a whole lot of different cultural influences and different trains of thought over time, all formed around a central traditionally Catholic identity.

With more and more Maltese artists finding ways to express themselves in these modern times, it is also great to be aware of some of the different artistic movements that were a part of Malta's story.

Here are some of the coolest artwork that this island has produced.

1. The catacombs' wall frescoes

St. Agatha's Catacombs, Rabat

Beautiful and full of symbolism, they are a wonderful example of Early Christian art.

St Agathas Catacombs

2. Silent Church

Frank Portelli, 1956 

This haunting image displays overtones of death, despair, and violence. It makes one think about the mechanisations of war vs. humanity.

4 Silent Church Oils On Cavas 58 X 79 2 Cm Signed Left Of Centre Bottom Dated 1956 Private Collection Malta

Credit: Portelli family

3. Salome

Carmelo Mangion, undated

A 20th century affluent woman is painted here instead of the Biblical Salome, where she is locked in a piercing glare with St. John's blackened and severed head.

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4. Martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Mattia Preti

While Mattia Preti technically might not be Maltese, the attention to detail of St. Catherine's bare breasts coupled with the interesting perspective makes this one of the best paintings produced in Malta.

Mattia Preti  Martyrdom Of St Catherine Of Alexandria

5. Self-Portrait

Antoine de Favray 

Similar to Mattia Preti, this French artist is often considered quasi-Maltese due to the influential work he did in Malta. In this picture, he captures the critical emotion he was famous for. 

Favray  Autoportrait

6. kelmabejntnejn

Austin Camilleri, 2008 

Seeing former Minister for Gozo Giovanna Debono side-by-side with the Mona Lisa, even mimicking Mona Lisa, is an interesting local take in the debate of Maltese identity. 


7. Self-Portrait 

Giuseppe Hyzler, 1821

The intense stare coupled with the Roman Catholic background makes this a quintessential Maltese self-portrait. 

551 552 Giuseppe Hyzler Self Portrait Of Giuseppe Hyzler Tif Thumb

8. Death of St. Philip of Aggira 

Francesco Zahra

This is just a great painting. It shows a deep technical ability, as well as fine examples of perspective and chiaroscuro.

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9. Large Sleeping Figures

Caesar Attard, 1995

This ambiguous painting makes one wonder. Does this represent sleep, or indeed, the long sleep that comes with death?


10. The Virtues of Mankind 

Giuseppe Cali

One of Malta's most eminent artists, this painting can be found hanging above the stage at the Salesian Theatre. 


11. Battle of Ascalon

Leonello Spada

This historical painting by Spada gives a intense and powerful visual into the life of a medieval knight in Malta.

Screen Shot 2018 01 09 At 20 22 55

12. Noospheres 

Alfred Chircop 

You can see Chircop contemplating an ever-changing existence through a fluidity of forms, ideas, immateriality and the realm of the mind.

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Which Maltese painting is your favourite?

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Written By

Johnathan Cilia

Johnathan is interested in the weird, dark, and wonderful contradictions our late-capitalist society forces upon us. He also likes music and food. Contact him at [email protected]