The titular painting of the Comino chapel is back in its place after a year of extensive restoration. The painting, entitled ‘Ir-Ritorn mill-Eġittu’ (Return from Egypt), shows the Holy Family returning to Nazareth from Egypt. The Comino chapel Rector, Fr Ġużepp Attard, said that the figures appearing in the painting – Jesus, Mary, Saint Joseph and the angel – all have important roles in the painting.
“Jesus leads the way because He is at the forefront, however Mary is holding Jesus from the pulse. Normally it is Jesus who holds the people he cures from the hand, persons he delivered from evil or sin. This time, Mary seems to command Him as she did at the Cana wedding.
Art historian Sandro Debono said that the 18th Century work is inspired from a copper etching of an important painting by Giovanni Battista Paggi for the Santa Maria degli Angeli church in Genoa.
“In some way, this etching was received by the painter of the Comino chapel painting, who is Carlo Zimach – a priest. He was connected with Nadur where he painted many art works for the locality’s church. He also has works in Ħal Għaxaq and other places and therefore gradually we attributed this painting to the author”.
Restorer Pierre Bugeja said that the painting was in a bad state; it had darkened in varnish paint and many other damaged parts. “It appeared that a massive intervention had been carried out on this painting”.
He added that during past interventions, hard metal material which is irreversible, was used and therefore restoration had to be extensive.
Bank of Valletta financed the restoration work.