The Baroque Hall – Mdina Cathedral Museum Archives

The Baroque Hall

The Baroque hall served as a dormitory, as the case of the two other halls in the first floor, since the building was originally a seminary. This hall now houses the paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries. At the height of his popularity during the late 1590s and the first decade of the 17th century, Caravaggio’s dramatic new style influenced many of his peers in the Roman art world. Grouped in one section one can admire a collection of Caravaggist artists influenced by the turbulent Lombard artist famous for his dramatic chiaro scuro theatrical effect largely dominant in Europe of the period. This collection includes a signed and dated painting by one of Caravaggio’s students Mario Minniti, and others attributed to Battistello Caracciolo, Matthias Stomer, and Theodor Rombouts.

The Baroque hall served as a dormitory, as the case of the two other halls in the first floor, since the building was originally a seminary. This hall now houses the paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries. At the height of his popularity during the late 1590s and the first decade of the 17th century, Caravaggio’s dramatic new style influenced many of his peers in the Roman art world. Grouped in one section one can admire a collection of Caravaggist artists influenced by the turbulent Lombard artist famous for his dramatic chiaro scuro theatrical effect largely dominant in Europe of the period. This collection includes a signed and dated painting by one of Caravaggio’s students Mario Minniti, and others attributed to Battistello Caracciolo, Matthias Stomer, and Theodor Rombouts.

On the other side one finds 17th century Italian artists. Moving on one finds works by Mattia Preti and his contemporaries such as: Mattia Preti and Bottega (the Annunciation), Pereria, The Patron saints of the plague, and Giuseppe d’Arena, St Blaise. On the other side one finds works by Maltese 18th century artists such as Francesco Zahra the most prolific Maltese artist of the 18th Century, Antoine Favre the most prolific foreign artist working as a court painter in the 18th artist as well as a rare painting by Giuzeppe Grech.

The baroque hall is dominated by two impressing pieces of furniture, the first is the old Medieval cathedral organ loft which was installed on the main door of the cathedral which was practically destroyed during the earthquake of the 11January 1693. The pieces of this organ loft where dismembered and some discarded in old stores and only recently were painstakingly restored and reintegrated allowing the visitor to appreciate this magnificent work of art which reached Malta in 1601. The decorative motifs of the balcony and loft are composed in the Mannerist fashion with the typical grotesque motifs popular during the renaissance.

The balcony is complimented by the Antes referring to two large paintings of stretched canvas which used to cover the pipe organs. When opened these two panels showed on one side Saint Peter and Saint Paul and on the other side depicting the Annunciation. After being extensively restored and placed on the balcony the integrated parts were crowned by a lunette showing an empty coat of arms as this used to change according to the bishop., flanked by two cherubs which incorporates all the pieces into one whole structure.

Facing this one can admire the old choir stalls of the old cathedral. These choir stalls were brought from Sicily in 1490. With time they were replaced by newer stalls in the 19th century which can still be found in the cathedral today. A section of the old stalls showing the cathedra of the chancellor and another three seats complete with backing and arms, showing how the original stalls looked in medieval times.