Insight into the genius of Arrighi
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Insight into the genius of Arrighi

The statue of St Andrew being rinsed by immersion in demineralised water to remove the last traces of any salts. Photos: Daniel Cilia

The statue of St Andrew being rinsed by immersion in demineralised water to remove the last traces of any salts. Photos: Daniel Cilia

Silver has no colour and one ray of light could throw the whole composition off. This is where the photographer’s style comes into play – making him an artist as much as a sculptor.

St Matthew after restorationSt Matthew after restoration

And this is what Daniel Cilia does in the new The Apostolato book, according to Cardinal Prospero Grech, himself a photography enthusiast.

“Whoever looks closely at the photographs in this volume cannot help but admire both Daniel Cilia’s insight and technique, by means of which he opens the reader’s eyes to the genius of Arrighi,” Cardinal Grech said.

Cardinal Grech also commends the printer’s role in the foreword to the book, which serves as a “beautiful monument” to the collection of 18th-century statues adorning the Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral museum.

The volume came into being 20 years ago through a larger conservation project. The Apostolato was in a deteriorating state of preservation and restoration kicked off in 2007.

The collection of 15 silver statues featured in the new limited edition publication dates back to between 1741 and 1743.

Details of St MatthewDetails of St Matthew

Made by Roman silversmith Antonio Arrighi and portraying the Apostles, John the Baptist, St Paul and Our Lady, the statues had been commissioned by the Order of St John to embellish the main altar of St John’s conventual church in Valletta during the titular feast.

Their design is based on the marble statues found at San Giovanni Laterano in Rome.

The statues are now exhibited at the museum, however, they are displayed on the main altar of the Mdina cathedral at Christmas, the Conversion of St Paul Day and L-Mnarja – the feast of St Peter and St Paul.

Published by the Mdina Cathedral Chapter in collaboration with Pedrollo S.p.A to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Archives and the Museum of the Cathedral of Malta, it was authored by Jennifer Montagu, Aloysius Deguara, Sante Guido-Giuseppe Mantella, John Azzopardi, Edgar Vella, Maria Chiara Cozzi and Alberto Bianco.

Photography and design of the 384-page volume containing over 500 photos and illustrations, was left in Mr Cilia’s hands, and the publication was printed and bound in Italy by Intergrafica Verona.

Later on, the book will also be available in Italian.

The 15 statuettes on the altar.The 15 statuettes on the altar.

From left: more details of St Matthew, St John the Evangelist by Antonio Arrighi at the Mdina Cathedral Museum and detail of the back of St Andrew with the original silver screws.From left: more details of St Matthew, St John the Evangelist by Antonio Arrighi at the Mdina Cathedral Museum and detail of the back of St Andrew with the original silver screws.

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