The AnnunciationThe Annunciation

All great artists influence each other.

To die young was nothing out of the ordinary in the 1600s but biographers say Melchiorre Cafà died at the young age of 31, when a piece of a life-size model of St John the Baptist fell on him. As far as is known, however, the cause of his death is not documented.

Cafà was a Maltese sculptor renowned for his Roman baroque style. He was born in Vittoriosa in 1636 and baptised as Marcello.

However, after his move to Rome in 1658, he was most frequently referred to as Melchior or Melchiorre. His works are to be found in many major international museums and collections.

Like most other artists, Cafà was fascinated by the attraction of Rome as a centre of glorious artistic activity.

On the 350th anniversary of Cafà’s death, wax reliefs (bozzetti) of The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Shepherds and The Nativity are being loaned by the Mdina Cathedral Museum for a twinning exhibition organised by Din l-Art Ħelwa at Our Lady of Victory church, Valletta, and at Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

The NativityThe Nativity

The wax reliefs hung in the sacristy sitting room of the Mdina Cathedral till 2008. They were rough and covered in gypsum and silver leaf. They were identified for the first time as works by Cafà by Giuseppe Mantella and Sante Guido, who will illustrate their study of these wax bozzetti and talk about the life of this genius of the Maltese art history.

Natalis Jesus Christi will be inaugurated at Our Lady of Victories church, Valleta, tomorrow, Friday, December 1, at 6.30pm. The exhibition will remain open until January 15, 2018. Entry is free of charge but a donation for the restoration and maintenance of Valletta’s oldest church will be appreciated. For more information, call 9963 7409.

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