Crucifixion Group Restored

Crucifixion Group Restored

One of the treasures which has just been restored is The Crucifixion Group which was a gift from Commander Fra Felicaja, and has been in the Co-Cathedral since 1653. It consists of three larger than life wooden figures – the Crucifix, the Virgin and St John the Evangelist. As one would expect, the statues had suffered the ravages of time, and signs of woodworm infestation and weakness in their supports had been extremely evident.

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation administers the church and museum in order to ensure their effective conservation and management as a historical and architectural monument, as well as a sacred place of worship. One of the major aims of the Foundation is to generate revenue to be used for the maintenance and restoration of the Co-Cathedral’s priceless works of art.

One of the treasures which has just been restored is The Crucifixion Group which was a gift from Commander Fra Felicaja, and has been in the Co-Cathedral since 1653. It consists of three larger than life wooden figures – the Crucifix, the Virgin and St John the Evangelist. As one would expect, the statues had suffered the ravages of time, and signs of woodworm infestation and weakness in their supports had been extremely evident.

During the course of their restoration it emerged that the statues were covered in a layer of plaster that was much thicker than expected. The fine chiselling and the impressive plasticity in the rendition of the anatomy could only be attributed to a great master, who until now remains unknown.

Cynthia de Giorgio, the curator of St John’s Co-Cathedral, said that the group of sculptures are an exquisite example of the High Baroque style and it has always been thought they are the work of Alessandro Algardi – one of the leading sculptors of the 17th century in Rome, who also received commissions from the Pope and other influential contemporary figures.

His works are found in the Vatican as well as in other important churches in Rome and throughout Italy. The intervention, besides recapturing the group’s original beauty, could now assist art-historians to attribute the work more securely to an artist. The restoration of The Crucifixion Group was entrusted to RECOOP.

The Alf Mizzi Foundation, which seeks to promote and safeguard Maltese culture, heritage and environment, has generously sponsored the restoration of these sculptures, even though the cost had doubled due to unexpected lengthy restoration procedures.

Paul A. Attard, President of St John’s Co-Cathedral, said that one of the major aims of the Foundation is to generate revenue to be used for the maintenance and restoration of the Co-Cathedral’s works of art and artefacts. He added that funds are never enough and the initiative of the Alf Mizzi Foundation is certainly commendable. We also hope that it would set an example for other companies, especially those that benefit from tourism, to do like wise.