Caravaggio and Painters of Realism in Malta

In July 1608, Caravaggio was invested with the habit of Magistral Obedience by Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. In honouring Caravaggio, the Grand Master thought that he would thus keep the artist firmly attached to the Order of St John, hoping that the Order would find glory through his art: 'we wish to gratify the desire of this excellent painter, so that our Island Malta, and our Order may at last glory in this adopted disciple and citizen' (extract from the document of Caravaggio's investiture). The artist, however, soon fell out of grace and was deprived of his knighthood in the very same year. Malta had thus, strictly speaking, 'lost' Caravaggio. Caravaggio's presence in Malta was, however, to remain strong, partly because of the pictures that he painted and partly because of the overwhelming influence that his art had on realist paintings that found their way on the island thereafter. Caravaggio, the man dishonoured by the Order, was thus honoured through his art. This exhibition, entitled Caravaggio and paintings of Realism in Malta, forms part of a wider programme of events called CARAVAGGIO400, aimed at celebrating the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio's stay in Malta.