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Figures in Ecclesiastical Costume, oil on canvas, 47x60cm

Naively painted and of greater documentary value rather than artistic merit, this painting probably dates to the late 18th century.  The artist is unknown, however, the costumed figures appear to relate quite closely to the Francesco Zimelli (1748-1803) prints in the National Library Collection (Valletta, Malta), but certain figures are inverted.  The persons depicted are probably not intended as portraits, but are rather intended to represent an office.  The common factor is that they are all ecclesiastical figures, albeit some pertain to the Order of St. John while others belong to the diocese. Reading the painting from left to right the persons represented are the Bishop of Malta, two pages (attendant on the Grandmaster), the Grandmaster himself, who may or may not be Grand Master de Rohan, the Prior of the Conventual Church of St John, the Conventual Chaplain and, probably, an altar boy.  At least two other similar paintings are known: one was auctioned at Christie’s Auction House a few years ago and was at the time attributed to Antoine Favray, and another is in the Museum of the Venerable Order of St John at Clerkenwell, London.

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