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Death of Vincent Apap

Vincent Apap (1909-2003) (Photo: Joseph A. Vella)

Vincent Apap (1909-2003) (Photo: Joseph A. Vella)

The eminent sculptor Vincent Apap, MOM, OBE - the last of a group of Maltese artists who studied in Italy in the Thirties - passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

Born on November 13, 1909, at 16 Apap started attending the School of Art under Edward Caruana Dingli. In 1927 he won a scholarship to the British Academy in Rome, then under the direction of Antonio Sciortino, one of Malta's greatest sculptors.

Apap hailed from an artistically gifted family. His younger brother was the renowned painter Willie Apap, who rose to public esteem through his much admired facility in modelling and his classicist approach to his art. His other brother, Joseph, one of Malta's best known cellists, died suddenly in his Thirties. Their father died at a very young age and being the eldest, Vincent was very much a father figure to his siblings.

Beginning with the immensely popular Hamrun monument to Fra Diego at the age of 22, a commission won through a public competition in 1931 - practically to the eve of the young sculptor's return from his Rome studies - Vincent Apap's career could be followed for close to five decades by his numerous public monuments and church commissions.

A good part of Apap's best works are still to be found in the collections of the Mountbatten family. Apap's works of the Royal Family and of some English aristocrats, included busts of Lord Louis Mountbatten (1935) at the Admiralty, London; Countess Edwina Mountbatten (1936); Princess Elizabeth (1951); Sir Winston Churchill at the Upper Barracca (1953); the Duke of Edinburgh at Edinburgh (1954); the Marquis of Milford Haven at the Admirality (1954); the Lord Beaverbrook monument at Fredericton, Canada (1957); a bust of the Prince of Wales (aged 10) at Buckingham Palace (1961); Duke of Edinburgh (second portrait, 1970) at the Royal Yacht Club; the Prince of Wales (second portrait), Buckingham Palace (1974); and the monument to Lord Louis Mountbatten, unveiled by Prince Charles at the Isle of Wight (1982).

The outstanding list of public monuments by Vincent Apap includes the Triton Fountain, City Gate, Valletta (1959); the bust of Dr Enrico Mizzi on St John's Square, Valletta (1964); Dante Alighieri at Floriana (1965); Mgr Gonzi at Mdina Cathedral (1971); Fr Feliciano Grech, OP, at Zabbar; Sir Paul Boffa at Castille, Valletta (1976) and Dr George Borg Olivier at Castille (1990).

The prolific artist's last major work, completed at the age of 89, was a bust of President Guido de Marco.

Two important exhibitions of Apap's work were organised in London, both jointly with paintings by his brother Willie. The first one was at the Commonwealth Institute (November 1960) and the other (January 1962) at the Grabowsky Gallery.

Vincent Apap married the late Maria Bencini in 1941; they had a son, John, and two daughters, Nella and Manon.

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