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Cotoner bronze restoration completed

The restored statue of Nicolas Cotoner

The restored statue of Nicolas Cotoner

The much-needed conservation work on the historic bronze bust representing Grand Master Cotoner, originally located high on the front of Notre Dame Gate, Vittoriosa, is now complete.

The long, laborious interventions were carried out by the Conservation Division of Heritage Malta, based at Bighi, on the initiative of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna and funded through a sponsorship received by the Vodafone Foundation.

This work of art is of national importance as it is one of the earliest known political artistic effigies. It is cast in bronze and weighs approximately 800 kilos. This restoration initiative is part of a larger project by FWA meant to fully restore the grand Notre Dame Gate into a functional visitors' centre.

Late last year, FWA had moved its offices to the upper part of this building. Extensive rehabilitation of the interior of one of its four casemated halls is currently being undertaken in line with its use as a multi-purpose roofed space.

Notre Dame Gate was built by the Order of St John in the 1670s during the reign of Fra Nicola Cotoner, founder of the Cottoner Lines of which it forms an integral part. This is one of the seven gates built into the curtain walls of the Cottonera girdle and was meant to serve as the magna-porta into the region.

Its architecture is among the best representatives of the Baroque military style that combines the linear austerity of military design with the grandiose, albeit heavy ornamentation, of the high-Baroque period. Its present form may date from the time of Grand Master Perellos. Notre Dame Gate remains the highest building in Cottonera from which a good part of the southeastern coast and anything up to Naxxar ridge and Mdina can be seen.

Early next year, FWA will team up with the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and Vodafone Foundation to hold a public art appreciation lecture and exhibition dedicated to this work of art at Notre Dame Gate.

This event will offer a unique opportunity to view the bronze bust from up close. It is an opportunity that should not be missed, especially as it has only been seen by the people who have been working on it for the past two years.

The exhibition will be open for two weeks, after which the bronze bust will be hoisted back in its original lofty aedicule on top of Notre Dame Gate.

For more information visit www.wirtartna.org

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