Malta and Meeting the Schranz Family

We have been joined by a subscriber who has a Maltese background so it’s time we went for a little trip to look at this beautiful little island to see what we can find in the way of art. I know that at least 3 of my subscribers have been to Malta but for the rest of us let's have a little look around to get a feel for the scenery. Here we have a view across the water to Valletta and I am already in love with the colours.
(Ref: And speaking of colour, what could be more glorious than this view of Gozo Island.
In the hilltop town of Mdina the Palazzo Santa Sofia is the best preserved medieval building on Malta. The ground floor was built in the C13th, the top floor much later. If you like you can hire the building out for a dinner party! Please if you do, invite me!
(Ref: Wikipedia)

The Palazzo Vilhena (Saint Publius Square) houses Malta's Natural History Museum containing geological exhibits plus fossil, insect, and animal displays. Note the statue of the butterfly.
Let's zoom in on it.

Malta has many lovely gardens and I have found out that from the Upper Barrakka Garden in Valletta you get a magnificent view of the Grand Harbour.

And you get an equally stunning view of the Marsamxett Harbour from the Sa Maison Gardens.
These glorious views must have inspired generations of artists and I have not been disappointed with my research. One of the earliest paintings of Grand Harbour, Marsamxett and Valletta I have found was painted by Giuseppe Caloriti (1681 - c. 1740). He too was captivated by the colour and the light as you can see below.
(Photo Ref: Self-photographed, Szilas in the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta)

I have however discovered another artist who is really inspiring especially as his main subjects were maritime. His name was John (or Giovanni) (1794-1882). Aren't you captivated by the dramatic sky pairing with its rival the sea for dramatic effect? This painting done in 1850 is titled Storm, Malta.
And here we have the peaceful aftermath in the Grand Harbour.
As coincidence would have it, as I researched Giovanni Schranz I discovered to my delight, in the Times Malta(Sunday, March 4, 2018), that in March this year at Fort St Elmo, Valetta an exhibition celebrating The Schranz Family of Artists – A Journey of Rediscovery was held. The purpose was to acknowledge the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Schranz Family of Artists in Malta on July 17, 1818 when Anton Schranz (1769-1839) migrated from Minorca, Spain, because of local civil disputes. Here are some of the works of Anton Schranz. The first is A British Frigate leaving Port Mahon, Minorca.
I don't have a title for this one but you can see the similarity to the painting above by his son Giovanni.
This one is titled A Frigate Entering the Grand Harbour. You can see he is working on capturing the light.
And this is another image of the Grand Harbour in brilliant sunshine. I love the way he has silhouetted the people in the foreground.
And in this painting of The Citadel of Corfu Anton has used a softer light but continues to have the figures on the foreshore which seem to be his motif and his son Giovanni followed in a similar style. In all the paintings the sky is a major part, dropping down into the middle ground which is usually the distant buildings being met by the sea which leads the viewer to the figures and their activities on the shoreline.

The exhibition was organised by Heritage Malta in collaboration with the Schranz family and the Schranz Bicentenary Committee. John J. Schranz, a descendant of Giovanni Schranz, has written a series of articles on the context in which the Schranz artists lived and worked. I want to read these articles before continuing with the Blog on the Schranz family of Artists. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with some more information.

Learning Point for People Learning to Paint. Look at the composition of these paintings and the way the image has been divided into the sections as described above. Try to draw up an image of your own using the idea of the dominant sky, background of distant buildings, water which can be a sea, river, lake and finally the foreground figures in focus and engaged in some kind of activity.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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