This lithograph view of St John’s Co-Cathedral, with a beautifully intricate border printed in two colours, is the cover of a 19th-century booklet with interior views of St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta by Brocktorff & Sons. In the foreground, an elegantly dressed man raises his top hat to salute two women with parasols, in this very busy square where people met to chat, as they still do today. Charles Frederick de Brocktorff (c. 1775/1785 – 1850) was a German-Danish artist who settled in Malta where he painted numerous scenes of the island. He also set up a successful lithography studio which he and his sons would operate throughout the 19th century.
On display in the Europe galleries one can find these beautiful Sicilian maiolica tiles. These tiles date back to the 1700’s and are by an unknown craftsman. Maiolica tiles are tin-glazed, usually painted in bright colours and patterns on a white background. They were useful in kitchens as countertops or back splashes and also for the outdoors as colourful additions to create unique atmospheres.
On 7th January 1866 at 5 p.m., Edward Lear was walking in the countryside on the outskirts of Ħ’Attard and captured the beauty of San Anton Gardens in this quickly rendered watercolour. We know these details because he recorded them on the drawing. The warm colours and waning light of the setting sun on this winter evening are captured marvelously. You can almost hear and feel the breeze blowing through the high trees of the garden. Nowadays, San Anton Gardens are surrounded by residential buildings, which makes us appreciate this beautiful unobstructed countryside view even more.