The beauty of the paintings covering the walls of the private Palazzo De La Salle chapel in the lower part of Valletta’s Republic Street will soon be re-opened to the public wishing to view their wonders after restoration has been completed.
The Palazzo was built at the end of the 16th Century and served as one of the residences of the Knights of St John for more than 200 years.
In the 18th Century the residents were the nobility brothers Henri and Guillieume de La Salle who looked after this part of Valletta which is also known as ‘d-Due Balli’.
The Palazzo was assumed by the Maltese Society for Arts in 1923 and became a major cultural centre in which concerts and national and international art exhibitions were held.
The value of the wall paintings has to be considered against a background of the baroque era and were saved in the context of them being in a private chapel in a residence.
“And the altars surrounding the paintings are the decorative element which complement the relief stonework which documents this monumental arch, whereas the frieze paintings depict scenes of the life of Saint John the Baptist and architectural features, and the decorative arms of Fra Guillaume de la Salle and Grandmaster De Vilhena”
In 2016 a conservation project began for the painting dated to 1730. The work has been undertaken by the University’s conservation and heritage department and involved work in various phases.
“The altars around here are from the seventeenth century whereas the frieze from the top the walls is from the 18th century and we know that the frieze painting was probably commissioned by Guillaume de la Salle who was a Knight of St John and who was a resident of the palace at the time”
The restoration work cost about €25,000.