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Mattia Preti painting portrays 13th century battle
By MaltaMedia News
Jan 5, 2007, 10:57 CET

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Mattia Preti's painting of St George on Horseback, at the chapel of the Aragonese Langue at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, has taken on added significance after a study revealed that it depicts a famous 13th century battle.

Scene from St. George on Horseback painting depicting 13th century battleThe study, carried out by Sandro Debono, a senior curator at Heritage Malta, concluded that a detail of the painting depicts the 1238 Spanish battle at El Puig de Santa Maria, reported The Times of Malta.

Mr Debono said this is the best painting that represents the El Puig battle scene.

The battle had ended with the Moors surrendering to the Catalan king James I the Conqueror, on whose side St George can be seen riding. The painting is among one of Preti's earliest known. It was commissioned for Malta, in the late 1650s. The painting was recently been restored at Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome, Italy. Itís historical, technical and artistic significance of the painting were analyzed, however symbolism and military context had been ignored.

Mr Debono told The Times of Malta "The battle was referred to as likely to be a crusade in Jerusalem. But following careful study, I am convinced it refers to El Puig. The topography, where one can see two small hills and a bigger one in the background, is similar to that of El Puig. The way the battle scene is configured and the light, suggesting dawn, fit in perfectly with the battle of El Puig."

He furthermore added that "This painting had big cultural significance for the Aragonese Langue. I feel my findings provide a clearer historic reading of the painting. It also highlights the intricate historic relationship between the Order of St John and St George as represented in Preti's painting."

A painting of the same battle also exists at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, United Kingdom.

© Copyright 2006 - MaltaMedia Online Network

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