Valletta, 4 August 2010

The monument commemorating the Great Siege of 1565, an Antonio Sciortino masterpiece, is set to become the focus of a conservation initiative which aims to preserve this major Valletta landmark for future generations. The project is sponsored by Malta-based trade finance institution FIMBank plc and coordinated by heritage NGO Din l-Art Ħelwa.

This well-known sculpture, which is located opposite the Law Courts in Republic Street, Valletta, was installed in 1927 and consists of a granite base with three bronze figures above. The female figure on the left represents Faith and carries a papal tiara in her outstretched hand, while the one on the right, which carries a mask of Minerva, represents Civilisation. These female figures are wearing flowing dresses as well as a band in their hair. The central figure is a muscular male representing Valour, and holds a sword in his right hand which points down the centre of the monument. He is also holding a shield with his left hand. The male figure is wearing half a suit of armour as well as a three-pointed crown.

The project is planned to commence in early August and the intention is to have it concluded in time for the annual wreath-laying ceremony held on the 8th of September, the National Day known as ‘il-Vitorja’ (the Victory).

The Heritage ResCo conservation team, composed of academically trained and experienced conservators Ms. Ingrid Ross, Mr. James Licari and Mr. Frank Chetcuti, have been entrusted with the cleaning and preventive maintenance of the Great Siege Monument. They are co-ordinating the works together with Architect Dr. Claude Borg of the Restoration Project Office (Valletta Mdina Kottonera Rehabilitation Project), which falls under the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs. The VMK is also providing the scaffolding as a further contribution towards this project.

Works will primarily address the effects of unfavourable atmospheric conditions, in particular the natural weathering process caused mainly by salt deposition, acidic bird droppings as well as past interventions.

Commenting on this project, FIMBank President Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger said that “These islands are a treasure trove of history, and as a Malta-based institution we feel we owe it to the people of Malta to help safeguard jewels such as the Great Siege Monument. Not only is this monument linked to an important event in the islands’ history, but it is also a masterpiece by one of Malta’s greatest artists”.

“Din l-Art Ħelwa is grateful to FIMBank for their support of the conservation of this important monument by one of Malta’s most accomplished 20th Century artists, Antonio Sciortino,” said Dr. Petra Bianchi, Executive President of Din l-Art Ħelwa.

The project is being dedicated to the memory of the former Curator of the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Dr. Dennis Vella, who passed away last year.