Exhibition: Historic watercolours of Gozitan Notary Antonio Portelli
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An exhibition of the historic watercolours of Gozitan Notary Antonio Portelli is to open at the National Archives Gozo.
For this special occasion, a full-colour catalogue with all his ink drawings and water colours has been published in a limited edition.
The NAG has also issued a special pack of ten cards with the ten most noteworthy water colours of Notary Antonio Portelli in an edition of 100 sets.
Notary Antonio Portelli was born in Rabat-Gozo on the 1st of March 1809, married twice, and died at the age of 67 on the 21st of January 1877. He practised his profession in Gozo between 1839 and 1877.
Antonio Portelli whiled away his free time by embellishing the title-pages of some of his notarial volumes with ink drawings and water colours.
His registers are therefore unique for this reason. The most interesting thing about his illustrations is that they reflect contemporary scenes and events.
His scenic water colours include the Cittadella in 1842; two views of Hagret tal-General at Dwejra, with the ropeway to the rock still in operation in the early 1840s; the partly excavated Ggantija Temples in 1844; a funeral procession on the occasion of the 1850 cholera outbreak; and Ta’ Gurdan Lighthouse in 1853, the year of its inauguration.
One particularly exceptional water colour is an eye-witness depiction of the first organised Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition of 14-15 August 1855 – which is known to this day by its original name as Il-Wirja ta’ Santa Marija.
There is also an interesting water colour which depicts a Gozitan lady executing a wide lace pattern on a large pillow resting against a tree; this was executed in 1852 when the industry started gaining ground.
Two of the water colours refer to international events: the return to Rome of Pope Pius IX and the triumph over the triumvirate that had ousted him out of the eternal city; as well as the Anglo-Franco-Ottoman alliance against the Russian Empire, better known as the Crimean War.
The exhibition, which is being held in collaboration with the Notarial Archives, will be officially inaugurated by the Minister for Gozo Dr Justyne Caruana, on Wednesday, the, 21st of March, at the premises of the National Archives (Gozo Section), in Triq Vajringa, Victoria.
It will be open Monday to Saturday, from Thursday, the 22nd of March to Friday, the 20th of April, between 8.30am and 12.30pm – excluding public holidays. Entrance is free. The exhibition is supported by the Ministry for Gozo and HSBC.