The Palace

Sala Lombarda

The paintings here represent the traditional taste of decoration demanded by a Maltese family in a drawing room in the period from the 18th to the late-19th centuries. Arte Sacra and saints were popular images throughout that era, along with striking family portraits and large mythological canvasses.

Above the fine fireplace, in keeping with the exacting quality demanded by the Scicluna family, is a large canvas, the work of Philipp Peter Roos (1657-1706) who was better known as Rosa da Tivoli and whose work is very much sought after by collectors. This particular painting is of exceptional quality and bears witness to the efforts made in creating the gracious atmosphere of this fine room. Also in this room is a pair of charming and imaginative architectural paintings in the manner of Giovanni Paolo Panini. Above each of the four doors in this room are paintings by Mattia Preti who was born in Taverna in 1613 and died in Valletta in 1699 and whose work is highly prized in Malta and mainland Europe. 

The portrait of a bishop on the opposite wall depicts one of Malta’s 18th century bishops, Fra Bartolomé Rull, Grand Prior of the Order of St John and Bishop of Malta (1757-69). The unfortunate scar on his forehead makes the portrait easy for historians to identify while the contrasting beauty of the lace on his clothing depicts one of the islands’ traditional crafts which achieved great heights of sophistication and fame during that age, as did the manufacture of intricate silver and gold objects. 

The furniture also deserves close scrutiny: it is an unusual fashion for Malta but admirable for the purpose of this elegant room. It is in the Lombard style (from northern Italy) and is both rich and elegant. The curtains too – not only in this room but also elsewhere throughout the palace – are the original curtains chosen by the Scicluna family and have been perfectly preserved with only minor restoration.

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