Malta has purchased a masterpiece by Italian baroque artist Mattia Preti for just over €1.3 million, with the money originating from a sovereign wealth fund which manages the proceeds from the IIP sale of citizenship scheme.
Preti’s oil on canvas painting, titled Boethius and Philosophy, in around 1680 and depicts an allegory of Philosophy next to the jailed philosopher Boethius, with the Muses watching on in the background.
The painting is believed to have been commissioned by Andrea di Giovanni, Knight of the Order of Malta, and to have formed part of the collection of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Order in Malta. However, it was probably taken out of the island at the end of the 19th century and eventually ended up in the hands of the international auction house Sotheby’s.
American art historian John Spike has described it as “one of the masterpieces of Preti’s last years, and indeed of Mattia Preti’s entire career” and Maltese art professor Keith Sciberras has hailed it as a “major and sophisticated example of Preti’s themes of a philosophical imprint depicted in Malta”.
Culture Minister José Herrera thanked the Board of Governors of the National Development Social Fund and Heritage Malta for acquiring this piece and stated that its acquisition is proof of the government’s commitment to continue to protect and enrich the cultural and artistic heritage of our country.
Mattia Preti was born in Italy but moved to Malta in 1659 and was appointed as a Knight in the Order of St John, which ruled the island back then. He is best known locally for designing the interior of St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.