Source: PROCEEDINGS OF HISTORY WEEK. (1993)(151-180)

[p.151] The Funeral of Angelo Emo in Malta in 1792: A Pictorial Record

Albert Ganado

Angelo Emo was born in Venice on 4 January 1731 into an illustrious Venetian patrician family whose name figures in the history of the Republic as far back as the twelfth century. Giovanni, his father, held the high office of Procuratore di San Marco; [1] his mother, Lucia Lombardo, belonged to another prestigious Venetian family which, however, died out with her generation. [2]

He received his education at a Jesuit college where the Fathers tried unsuccessfully to induce him to join the Order: dimostrò si fattamente il suo vivace ingegno, che quei Padri soliti di sceglier per loro, il più bel fiore della gioventù, tentarono di cogliere e trapiantar questo singolare ramuscello nel proprio lor campo. His strong inclination towards the military arts was rewarded when his parents enrolled him in the Naval Militia of the Serenissima Repubblica. He was then twenty-two years of age. [3]

When Angelo (Angiolo, Agnolo) took to the sea he immediately made his mark and, in 1766, when hostilities broke out once more between Algiers and Venice, it was Emo who, in two years of continuous warfare, succeeded in restoring the supremacy of the Venetian navy in African waters in order to protect [p.152] the commercial interests of the Republic. During the next decade, Angelo Emo reorganised the extensive dockyard of the Republic, he occupied the highest posts in the Magistracy and successfully settled a dispute between Venice and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II regarding the borders of Dalmatia. Soon after, he was once more engaged to suppress the rising power of the Barbary corsairs. Eventually, the Venetian Republic declared war on the Bey of Tunis and, on 27 June 1784, the fleet sailed down the Adriatic under the supreme command of Emo. Fama was his flagship. [4]

Between October 1784 and October 1786 the Venetian fleet bombarded and razed to the ground Tunis and La Goletta, Susa, Sfax and Bizerta. Highly effective during this operation were the floating batteries which could move close to the target, and which were of Emo’s own invention. [5] As a result of this campaign, the freedom of trade in the Mediterranean was assured, and by his military successes the Venetian admiral consolidated his honoured place in the annals of the Republic that gave him birth: Ma soprattutto brilla nella storia (of the Emo family) il nome di ANGELO, che tenne alto, nella seconda metà del sec. XVIII lonore e la fierezza della virtù militare e marittima di Venezia, allorchè la grande repubblica volgeva al tramonto, con le ultime magnifiche vittorie contro i barbareschi dAfrica. [6]

Relations Venice-Malta

One would expect to find the Christian Republic of Venice a constant ally of the Hospitaller Order of the Knights of St. John in its intrepid warfare against the Ottoman might and the Barbary corsairs. Nothing is further from the truth. Throughout the Order’s sojourn in Malta, Venice was extremely antagonistic to the Hospitallers and to Maltese privateering in the middle sea. Their enmity [p.153] came to a head in the 1740s. After the Venetian Signoria’s seizure (sequestro) of Hospitaller property in 1741, there were six years of near warfare between the Venetians and the Knights, until the Pope and the Curia Romana succeeded in bringing the confrontation to an end. [7]

It was only through the escalating rivalry between Venice and the Hapsburg Adriatic coastal town of Trieste that the Republic started viewing its relations with Malta in a different light and its trade interests led to a rapprochement which started taking shape in the early 1750s. [8]

As a result of this change in bilateral relations, Venice found a ready ally in the Order when she declared war on the Regency of Tunis thirty years later. The harbours and dockyard of Malta were made available to the Republic and the Venetian squadron under Emo’s command came four times to the island during its two-year campaign against the Regency of Tunis. [9] When the campaign was over, the fleet came back to Malta on 26 October 1786, after a short stay near Girgenti, and it participated in the festivities that took place on 22 November, the anniversary of de Rohan’s election as Grand Master. As Emo’s presence in the Central Mediterranean was now no longer required, his squadron left for Corfu on 18 March, 1787. [10]

After the lapse of four years the Venetian Senate finally decided to accept the African request for a peace treaty and it dispatched for the purpose Angelo Emo whose naval squadron was at the time anchored at Zante. He reached Tunis towards the end of August to negotiate the peace treaty, joined the Vice Admiral Tommaso Condulmier, and on 1 December 1791 the fleet anchored in the Grand [p.154] Harbour. [11] The Grand Officers of the Order of St John went to pay their respects to the Venetian hero, and the Grand Master gave him an audience on 4 December. [12]

Shortly after Emo’s arrival in Malta, the old rivalry between the Venetians and the Order once more reared its ugly head, threatening to bring about a dangerous cleavage in the new-found friendship. According to one writer, the incident was provoked by Emo himself, who affected towards the Knights the tone of superiority which the Republic had in the past exhibited towards the Order. Resentment on the part of the Knights expressed itself through satire and harsh criticism, against which Emo reacted so unfavourably that nineteen knights went to the flagship and insulted the Admiral to his face. Emo demanded immediate reparation on the ground that the insults directed at him were a grave offence against the Government of Venice. De Rohan found himself in an awkward situation, but he thought it politic to appease the fury of the Venetian admiral. Two knights were condemned to twenty years imprisonment, and others were forced to leave the island. [13]

Emos funeral

Now, however, the Admiral was assailed by a powerful and deadly enemy: a disease which resisted every cure and swiftly carried him to the grave. At the first sign of symptoms which were causing the patient acute pains, and vomit accompanied by high fever, de Rohan ordered the Protomedicus, namely, the Physician-in-Chief of the island, [14] Dr Lorenzo They, [15] to minister to the needs of [p.155] the Admiral. When Dr They saw that the symptoms had become chronic and that no cure was foreseeable, he called in the help of Dr Francesco Gravagna, uomo pieno desperienza e di mediche cognizioni. [16] Some improvement in the condition of the patient was registered and, for a change of air, he went to live at the Casino of Antoine Poussielgue, the Venetian Consul, which dominated the Grand Harbour from the Floriana bastions. [17]

Medical intervention was of no avail. On 1 March 1792, at six in the morning, unexpectedly, Angelo Emo breathed his last. He was 61 years of age. While the Venetian vessels lowered their sails and fired salvos for three whole days, Angiolo Ventura, [18] the Surgeon-Professor of the Grand Master and the Principal Doctor (Primario) of the Sacra Infermiera, carried out the post-mortem and embalmed the body of the Venetian hero. [19]

On 2 March the Master of Ceremonies of the Conventual Church of St John went to Floriana to accompany the transport of the corpse to the Church of Sarria where the Venetian consul took charge of the ceremonies the occasion demanded. News of the sad event were transmitted to Venice with a request for instructions concerning the conveyance of the corpse to Venice and the ceremonial [p.156] to be followed. The speronara [20] carrying the instructions of the Venetian Senate, captained by Francesco Mattei of the Venetian navy, reached Malta on 14 March after a short voyage.

The Council of the Order entrusted the ceremonials to four Grand Crosses: Balì Fra Raimondo Albino Menville, Prior of the Conventual Church; Balì Fra Charles-Abel de Loras; Fra Ferdinando Hompesch, Balì of Brandenburg; and Balì Fra Mariano Cascaxarès. [21] On Captain Mattei’s return from Venice, it was decided to effect the conveyance of the corpse to Venice and the date was set for the 18th April. St John’s Church was dressed in black, with white drapery hung in bizarre fashion in various places, and the corpse was displayed on the majestic catafalque, adorned and lit up with numerous torches. Seven inscriptions in Latin, [p.157] composed by Baron Calcedonio Azopardi, [22] lavorate con particolar gusto di Latinità, exalted Emo’s heroic deeds. The Palace Guard of the Grand Master was detailed to keep order within the Church.

Holy Mass was celebrated with great pomp and the Venetian squadron in harbour, with flags at half-mast, firing salvos of mourning, made preparations to escort the coffin out of the harbour on board the Admiral’s flagship all painted black. The concourse of people thronging the wharves and bastions soon dispersed because of a violent tempestuous wind that blew suddenly over the island, and the ceremony had to be put off to the next day at 14.30 hours.

On 19 April, with mounting interest and excitement, more and more people filled the streets of Floriana and Valletta through which the corpse was to be carried. The Maltese Regiment lined the route of the procession. The Officers wore a black band on their left arm, and a black veil covered the hilt of their swords. Likewise, the drums and band instruments, the banners and the soldiers bore signs of respect for the deceased. The members of the Religious Orders in Valletta gathered at St John’s to join the Venerable Assembly of the Conventual Chaplains of the Order on its way to the Church of Sarria, [23] accompanying the corpse. [24]

[p.158] At Sarria, Count Giacomo Parma extolled the virtues of the last great Venetian Admiral, [25] two full orchestras sounded the last prayers, and the funeral procession started wending its way to the Marina of Valletta with cannon booming their final salute. The participants marched in this order. At the head were twelve bombardiers with muskets, led by an officer and a drummer, [26] followed by four guns, each drawn by a mule guided by eight men in dark clothes, mules and guns being covered in crape, flanked by five bombardiers armed with torches. Then marched the squadron of the galleys, led by an officer on horseback, and the crews of the vessels, to the strains of sorrowful melodious music. The vanguard was brought up by the servants of the Admiral, in magnificent livery, followed in order of seniority by the Capuchins, the Carmelites, the Franciscan Minor Conventuals, the Augustinians, the Franciscan Friars Minor and the Dominicans. Finally came the Venerable Assembly of the Conventual Chaplains, merging its singing with the soft strains of the Cappella of St John’s and the plaintive instruments of the Grand Master’s Guard of Honour.

Immediately preceding the corpse was Captain Niccolò Knapichi, Count Parma, the purser of the fleet and the Chancellor. Behind them three officers (Colonel Zurla, Colonel D’Antoni and Major Lazzarovich) each carrying a pillow of black velvet with gold braid, on which were placed respectively: the Admiral’s gloves, hat, baton and sword; the Stole of the Order of St Mark; the Admiral’s spurs. The major-domo of the Admiral, together with twelve relatives carrying torches, surrounded the bier, while the Guard of Honour of the Grand Master formed a circle around the bier.

Angelo Emo was dressed in full uniform, deep blue and white, with gold facings, lying on a bed enveloped in a pall of black damask, adorned with the arms of the Emo family, held up by four officers belonging to the Venetian [p.159] nobility: Leonardo Minotto, Carlo Balbi, Zaccheria Bonlini and Lorenzo Parutta. Four other officers appeared to be carrying the bier, which was actually resting on the shoulders of four men, namely, two pilots and two Slavonic sergeants.

Immediately behind the bier came the aforementioned four Grand Crosses of the Order with Vice-Admiral Condulmier in their midst, accompanied by Giovanni Barbaran, the Major of the squadron and the Adjutant Francesco Grollo. The Venetian officers marched at the sides, following the Noble Antonio Zorzi and the Venetian Consul Poussielgue. According to one writer, the Knights of the Order of St John marched without any order at all between the two wings formed by the Venetian officers. [27] Was this irregularity purposely intended as a result of the unfortunate incidents that had marred the relationship between the Admiral and the Hospitallers a few months before?

The Maltese Regiment, with its numerous band, was the tail end of the long procession, which passed through Porta Reale and by the Slaves’ Prison to the Custom House at the Marina of Valletta, [28] with the bells of St John’s tolling as they would for the demise of a Grand Master or a reigning sovereign. At the Marina a double pontoon was tied to a bridge fixed to the quay. In the centre of the pontoon, which was magnificently adorned as befitted the occasion, an altar had been erected, illuminated with candles, on which the body was to be placed. Drums and military trophies merged with four Venetian banners and the Slavonic contingent lined the sides of the pontoon. The Vice-Admiral and his officers stood behind the altar, where a band was playing mournful tunes.

At the Custom House the troops of the Religion formed themselves into a square: those of the galleys occupied the right flank, with those of the vessels on the left and the Maltese Regiment in between them. The four artillery pieces were placed at the front. When the Venerable Assembly and the members of the Religious Orders left the scene through Calcara Gate, [29] the priests of the Venetian squadron under the shadow of the Cross accompanied the corpse to the pontoon. When the corpse was placed on the altar, the pontoon started moving away from the quay. Commendatore de la Garde, the Major-General of the fortress, ordered [p.160] the salute and the regiments, in order of seniority, fired a triple salute. This was taken up by the principal battery of the City, the one at the Upper Barracca, which fired the royal salute of twenty-one guns.

The pontoon was then towed slowly by boats belonging to the vessels of the squadron and each vessel fired an individual salute, in order of seniority, starting with that of the Vice-Admiral. First, a triple salute of musketry fire, then, twenty one salvos from the ship’s guns. Eventually, the pontoon reached the Admiral’s ship and the body was taken on board, received by the ministers of religion, laid in a lead coffin, and conveyed to the cabin (in the forward part of the vessel) specially appointed for the purpose and all dressed in black. A lengthy Latin inscription composed by Doctor of Medicine Giorgio Locano was fixed to the prow. Three salutes from the Slavonics on the pontoon brought the ceremony to an end. [30]

On 20 April the Vice-Admiral paid an official visit to Grand Master de Rohan to express the grateful thanks of the Queen of the Adriatic for the magnificent spectacle of the previous day. As a sign of deep gratitude and appreciation, the Vice-Admiral flew the Order’s banner from the main mast of his ship, and his visit to the Grand Master was accompanied by a royal salute. The day after, the Piliers or Conventual Bailiffs of the eight Langues of the Hospitallers, and the Prior of the Conventual Church (Fra Raimondo Menville) with four deputies of the Venerable Assembly, returned the Vice-Admiral’s visit.

Emo’s fleet departed on 24 April on its sad voyage to Venice. [31] When the Venetian Senate met on 12 May 1792 it sent a note of grateful thanks to Grand [p.161] Master de Rohan [32] and two years later Canova was commissioned to erect for the Arsenale a monument to the memory of the national hero. Another monument was built by Giovanni Ferrara, known as il Torretti, in the Chiesa dei Servi where Emo’s body (less his heart) was laid to rest, but in 1818 it was transferred to San Biagio which later became the church of the Italian navy. [33]

Angelo Emo’s heart was buried in the church of Our Lady of Victory in Valletta, where a marble monument to his memory stands on one side of the nave. A small bust of the deceased is placed on a sarcophagus which rests on a high pedestal on which a Latin inscription is engraved; it is the work of the Maltese sculptor Sigismondo Dimech, [34] executed in 1802. [35]

[p.162] Another monument was erected in the garden of Poussielgue’s house in Floriana. A supine full-length figure of the Admiral was highlighted with an architectonic background embellished with war trophies. Shortly before 1920 the house was demolished for the redevelopment of the site and the owners of the property offered to hand over the monument to Professor (later Sir) Themistocles Zammit, Director of the Museum, who was then engaged on the excavation of the unique neolithic hypogeum at Hal Saflieni. Unfortunately, the offer was not taken up and thus Emo’s monument was lost forever. [36]

The Venetian Senate, shortly after the return of the remains of the Admiral to his native land, sent a note of grateful thanks to Fra Antonio Colleoni, the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Order in Venice. It was dated 12 May 1792 and it stressed le replicate cospicue prove di costante amicizia e particolar attaccamento a riguardi publici manifestate dal Sagro Ordine Gerosolimitano anche alloccasione degli estremi distinti onori resi alla memoria del fu egregio, nostro Cittadino Cav ...Emo... e colla distinzione di onorevole marcato posto, ed inscrizione sepolcrale alle viscere del defunto. [37]

In his description of the funeral pomp and ceremony of the 19th April, Vincenzo Marchese wrote that the people of Malta had never witnessed anything like it and he was impressed by the turn-out of the local population: È incredibile il Popolo, che in detta cerimonia fu presente. Questo dogni età, grado, e condizione occupava le case, i baluardi, il molo intero, encomiando lestinto Emo, e richiamando alla memoria le di lui qualità di Valore, di Prudenza, e dindicibile Umanità. [38]

[p.163] In the light of what Marchese left written, it is not surprising that the extant visual material on the funeral is to be counted on more than one hand.

The funeral in pictures

Shortly before World War II Vincenzo Bonello, wrote that when he was Curator of the Fine Arts section of the National Museum (1925-1937) he had acquired for the Museum collection two paintings depicting Emo’s funeral. He also noted that two watercolours on the same theme were preserved at the Carmelite Convent in Notabile. [39] Four illustrations accompanied the article: one showed Emo’s monument in Valletta, two were companion pictures, and the fourth one had a completely different format. Although the illustrations convey the impression that the last three pictures are watercolours, one of them, the very last one, is in fact an oil painting.

In the annual report of the Museum Department for the financial year April 1931-March 1932 there is a list of “Works of art accrued to the Museum collection” in the Fine Art Section signed by Vincenzo Bonello, dated 12 October 1932. The two pictures of Emo’s funeral were described as oil paintings, each 1280 x 580 mm. [40] Writing five years later, Bonello attributed these paintings to the hand of a folkloristic craftsman - ingenuo pittorucolo. He described these two rozze pitture as una produzione popolaresca dovuta certamente ad uno dei tanti umili mestieranti che vivevano speculando sui molti pericoli offerti allora dalla navigazione, dipingendo quegli Ex voto, che gli scampati dalle bufere e dalle mani dei corsari appendevano alle Madonne dei Santuari più popolari dellIsola. [41] They were exhibited at the time in the small Marine Section of the Museum, but they are now hanging on the first floor of the Presidential Palace at San Anton. [42] As Bonello wrote, they depict the last two episodes of Emo’s funeral: the arrival of the bier at the Marina and its carriage from the wharf to the flagship.

The title of these two paintings is identical and in each case it is inscribed along the foot of the picture: UEDUTA DEL TRASPORTO FUNEBRE DI S. E.ZA [p.164] ANGELO EMO AMIRAGLIO VENETO A BORDO DEL SUO UASCELLO ESEGUITO IN MALTA IL DI 18. APRILE DEL ANNO 1792. This title corresponds to that given in the Museum Report and to that on one of the illustrations in V. Bonello’s article. The subject and the size are also the same. There seems to be no room for doubt that the paintings at San Anton are those acquired by the Museum in the early 1930s.

The two watercolours illustrating Bonello’s article showed the procession coming out of the church of Sarria and the transfer of the corpse to the Admiral’s flagship. The first one had this title: VEDUTA DELLA PROCESSIONE CHE ESCE DALLA CHIESA DELL’IMMACOLATA CONCEZIONE / detta di Sarria, nel sobborgo di Vilhena per trasportare il cadavere dell’ Ammiraglio veneto Angelo Emo sino la sua Nave nominata la Fama, ancorata con altre navi Venete nel Porto Generale di Malta. The second one: IMBARCO E CONSEGNA DEL CADAVERE DI S. E.ZA AMMIRAGLIO DELLE SQUADRE VENETE ANGELO EMO. / Per essere trasportato da Malta in Venezia nel dì 19 Aprile 1792. [43]

On both pictures a coat of arms of a prelate of the Order lies in the centre of' the title spread along the foot of the picture. It has already been stated that the Prior of the Conventual Church in 1792 was Fra Raimondo Albino Menville,` and his name immediately comes to mind. Indeed, the arms on these pictures are the same as those on his tombstone in St John's Co-Cathedral. The paintings,, therefore, were specifically made for him:

Among the exhibits at the Maritime Museum set up at Vittoriosa in 1988 and inaugurated in 1992, there are two pen and wash drawings, one of which . represents the procession outside the church of Sarria, while the other depicts the closing stages of the funeral. They are quite similar to the pair illustrating Bonello's article, but there are certain discrepancies which prove that they are two different sets of watercolours. The title is also different and, although on both pictures of the second set there is a space in the centre of the title, it is an empty space without any coat of arms.

These are the titles of the latter pair: TRASPORTO DEL CADAVERE DI SUA E. '. AMMIRAGLIO - DELLE SQUADRE VENETEANGELO EMO /Dalla Chiesa d[eltta Sarria ove era tenuto - in deposito, per sopra la sua Nave. and [IMBBARCO E CONSEGNA DEL CADAVERE DI S." E." - AMMIRAGLIO DELLE SQUADRE VENETEANGELO [EMOI/Per essere trasportato da Malta [p.165] - in Venezia nel di 19. Aprile 1792. Each picture measures 310 x 510 mm. The title is 45 mm. high.

The question therefore arises: which is the pair V. Bonello had seen at the Carmelite priory in Notabile, the one he illustrated in his article or the one now at the Maritime Museum? In reply to his enquiries the author was informed that no pictures of Emo’s funeral are extant at the Carmelite priory. Besides, Fr Serafin Borg, the historian of the Carmelite Order, assured the author that he had never seen at any Carmelite priory in Malta anything like the pictures being described to him. A possible solution to the problem, however, surfaced from a completely different source, the catalogue of the London Exhibition of 1886. Among the exhibits at the Malta Court there were two items which read: “The Embarkation of the Corps (sic) of the Venetian Admiral Enco (sic)” and “A Procession”, both by the same artist. No measurements were given and the titles rendered in English did not even correspond to the Italian original, so much so that a slightly different English title was given to the first picture in another section of the catalogue, namely, “Shipping the Corpse of the Venetian Admiral Erno (sic)”. A telling piece of information in the catalogue revealed that the two “Old drawings” above described were exhibited by the “Reverend Father Sav. Cauchi, friar, Carmelite Convent, Valletta”. [44]

It seems therefore quite safe to conclude that the watercolours seen by Vincenzo Bonello at Notabile in 1937 were the drawings exhibited in London in 1886 and that they are now housed at the Maritime Museum provided, of course, they did not form part of the Museum Collection before 1937. The Maritime Museum pictures have a label on the back which states that they were acquired on 20 May 1950 through a bequest of the Reverend Canon Joseph Cauchi! The date of acquisition is also recorded in the Report of the Museum Department for 1950-51. [45] What remains to be investigated is the kind of relationship that existed between the two Cauchis. Was Canon Cauchi a relative of the Carmelite friar Saverio Cauchi? [46]

[p.166] In regard to the provenance of the two watercolours illustrating V. Bonello’s article, it is rather strange that there is no mention of these pictures in the text of the article. Once the article appeared in a journal published in Rome, it is likely that they were accessible in Italy to the editor of the journal and it is to be presumed that the writer of the article was unaware of their existence when he submitted the text for publication.

Apart from these two pairs of watercolours, other pictures of the event were made on commission, some of which apparently even three years after the funeral had taken place. In April 1795 Giovanni Battista Albergotti, [47] a Knight of Malta, wrote to a fellow Knight, Count Giovanni de Lazara [48] informing him that he had carried out his commission “for a picture like the one by Console Bellata, done in watercolours, of the funeral procession of Cav. Emo. It costs 3 Louis. But in my opinion the maker will charge you 25 Maltese scudi”. [49] Reverting to the [p.167] subject on 8 July he wrote: “As regards the picture of the funeral procession of Cav. Emo, I hope to have it for 12½ up to 15 scudi, and that you will be pleased enough...” Finally, he wrote in October 1795: “I have the two pictures of the Port of Malta which you want.” It is not clear, however, whether these refer to the funeral of Emo which had been mentioned before. [50]

Who was the artist painting the same pair of watercolours over and over again as commissions came in? It appears that the answer is to be found in the catalogue of the 1886 London Exhibition. It is stated therein that the two pencil drawings exhibited by Father Cauchi were painted by Saverio Troisi, whose name seems to be completely unknown in the history of art in Malta. Fr. Cauchi also exhibited another drawing by the same artist representing “The Nativity of Our Saviour.” [51] Basically, the pictures at the National Maritime Museum are pencil drawings although heightened with wash and they may be referred to as watercolours.

Unlike the two oil paintings of the funeral, the drawings are of good quality. Indeed, Vincenzo Bonello had this to say about them: sono due disegni accurati, fatti da una mono assai più esperta. [52]

Although biographical data on Saverio Troisi are lacking, his activities in the 1790s are recorded in the annals of our political history. In 1797, a plot to overthrow the Order’s rule in Malta was uncovered. Saverio Troisi was one of the main protagonists, alongside Censu Barbara and Mikiel Anton Vassalli, and [p.168] he was condemned to perpetual exile. [53] Apparently, the most active French Government spy in Malta before it fell to Napoleon was a relative of Antonio Poussielgue, the Venetian Consul. [54]

Apart from the anonymous oil paintings and Troisi’s watercolours, the writer in 1970 came across a finely-drawn watercolour preserved at the Museo Correr in Venice. The title at the top centre reads: LA / CITTÀ DI / MALTA and, at the bottom right corner, it is signed by Luigi Rizzo [55] and dated 1794. Although the picture shows the Venetian fleet still in harbour just before its sad voyage to Venice, it figures in the catalogue of the Museo Correr as a Prospettiva della Città di Malta, without any indication that it is the last act of Emo’s funeral. The coat of arms at the bottom centre could not be identified.

Emo’s funeral procession was also depicted on a copper engraving, disseminated presumably in 1792, with the title: TRASPORTO DEL CADAVERE DI S. E. IL CAVALIERE - ANGELO EMO AMMIRAGLIO STRAORDINARIO / Della Serenissima - Veneta Republica. This engraving is very similar in many [p.169] respects to one of the coloured drawings by Saverio Troisi, but it is unsigned and it seems to have been painted from a different angle. It is not known whether Troisi was an engraver, although members of the Troisi clan were adept at using the burin as they were goldsmiths and silversmiths. [56]

The best known engraver of the 1790s was Sebastiano Ittar, although his brother Errigo had to his credit a number of engravings which have no connection with Malta. [57] Both were sons of Stefano Ittar who was engaged by the Order to build the finely-proportioned National Library in Valletta. Stefano was in the service of the Order as from 13 December 1783 at a yearly salary of 1500 scudi. He came to Malta from Sicily, but he returned to Messina for a while towards he end of 1784 and he came back to Malta with his family, including Sebastiano, some six months later. [58] He was officially appointed Architetto della Religione on 15 December 1787 as his services were being sought in connection with several other works in addition to the building of the Bibliotheca and his [p.170] interference was encountering opposition in certain quarters. [59] When he died on 20 January 1790 his place was taken over by his son Sebastiano, [60] who started drawing a salary of 85 scudi per month as from March 1790 which was increased to 100 scudi in September 1791. [61] L’Architetto Sebastiano Ittard remained on [p.171] the books of the Order until mid-September 1795. [62] It seems that he then moved to Rome.

When Lord Elgin left England in 1799 on a mission to the Ottoman Porte, he intended to procure accurate drawings and casts of the classical Grecian remains. He engaged Titta Lusieri, Court painter to the King of Naples, to form a team and Lusieri enlisted the services of five other artists, one of whom was Sebastiano Ittar. They reached Constantinople about mid-May 1800 after having spent some months in Malta. [63]

While working in Malta after his father’s death, Sebastiano proved himself to be a competent engraver. In 1791 the French Knight François Emanuel de Guignard Saint Priest published a book in two parts Malte par un voyageur françois. It was profusely illustrated with a map of Malta, a plan of the harbour area and a set of engravings depicting archaeological remains, coins, inscriptions, and a Maltese lady wearing une longue et large Mante.

Subsequently, he illustrated another book written by Marchese Carl’ Antonio Barbaro Degli avanzi d’alcuni antichissimi edifizj, scoperti in Malta l’anno 1768 and published posthumously in 1794. The fine plan of Marsa was signed: Sebastianus Ittar Architettus delineauit et scul. On two of the other nine plates there is Ittar’s monogram from which one can make out the letters S I SC.

At about the same period, during the reign of Grand Master De Rohan, Ittar produced another map of Malta CARTE GENERALE DES ISLES DE MALTE ET GOZE, which he signed: Sebastianus Ittar Arch’ Fecit. It is possible that a Veduta dell’assedio... del 1565, of which the author has a photocopy, was also drawn by him.

Sebastiano Ittar also prepared in ink and coloured washes a beautiful plan of the harbours of Valletta, flanked by six inset views, three on each side. The title was: PIANO DE PORTI E CITTA MARITIME DEL ISOLA DI MALTA and it measured 370 x 665mm. Clockwise, the insets depicted: VEDUTA DELLA CHIESA DI S. GIOVANNI; VEDUTA DEL PALAZZO DEL TRIBUNALE; VEDUTA DEL ARSENALE DE VASCELLI, VEDUTA DEL ARSENALE DELLE GALERE, PIAZZA DETTA DE CAVALIERI; VEDUTA DELLA PIAZZ[A] AVANTI IL PALAZZO MA GIS.LE

[p.172] He subsequently engraved the plan with the title: PORTO E FORTEZZA DI MALTA, measuring 378 x 648 mm. There are some slight differences between the coloured plan and the engraving. On the manuscript plan the ARSENALS DE UASCELLI is on the right and that of the galleys on the left; on the engraving their position was switched. Besides, the two cartouches at the sides above the views of the Arsenale have now been filled in with a key to place-names, 20 on the left and 21 to 46 on the right. At the foot of the cartouche on the left and AVERTIMENTO was inserted, while a scale in CANNE DI MALTA and Tese was added in the other cartouche.

Two states of this engraving are known, one of which is signed and dedicated by Ittar to the French Directoire. The dedication reads:

Ai Cittadini Reubell, Creilhard, Barral, Larevellier Lepau, Merlin de Doeuxi, / Componenti il Direttorio Esecutivo della Republica Francese / In cui si assicurano i Voti della miglior parte d’Europa, / Sebastiano Ittar, divenuto già libero, in segno di riconoscenza offre e dedica.

From the names of the members of the French Directoire it would appear, that this engraving was published in 1798 or 1799. It is not known which state of the engraving came first. Presumably, the one dedicated to the French Directory was printed in Italy, once the dedication is in Italian, while the other one could have been printed either in Malta or abroad.

In the light of Sebastiano Ittar’s activity in Malta in the early 1790s, the engraving of Emo’s funeral procession could be ascribed to him, also in view of the fact that there are strong similarities in the calligraphy of the harbour plan and that in the title of the funeral procession.

Sebastiano Ittar’s dedication of the plan of Malta harbour to the French Directoire is clear evidence of his republican leanings and it stirs up the memory of his father’s association with the progressive and agnostic scientist Dolomieu in 1784, when Sebastiano was a sixteen-year-old. On the occasion of Emo’s funeral eight years later, Sebastiano must surely have crossed the path of Saverio Troisi, who was shortly to become one of the main conspirators for the overthrow of the Order’s rule in the island. Are these mere coincidences, or is there a thread running through them pregnant with meaning?

Two centuries have passed since Emo’s funeral and there have been since then other similar manifestations of pomp and ceremony on the passing away of prominent personalities. Only thirty-five years after Emo’s death, the memorable scene of the funeral of the Marquess of Hastings, Earl of Moira, was captured in watercolour by Vincenzo Fenech, and the funeral of another Governor of Malta.

[p.173] Sir Walter Congreve (1924-1927), is remembered because in accordance with his last wishes he was buried at sea off the island of Filfla. In more recent times, the nation paid homage to Sir Filippo Sceberras (1850-1928), the architect of the 1921 Constitution, and a funeral no less impressive was held in remembrance of the beloved Monsignor Enrico Dandria (1892-1932). In 1950 the unforgettable state funeral was held of the then Prime Minister, Dr Enrico Mizzi, who had been interned and exiled by the British during World War II and who was escorted to his last resting place not only by the Maltese but also by the three British armed forces. Perhaps, however, notwithstanding the lapse of two hundred years, the funeral of Angelo Emo still holds pride of place.








[1] Giacomo Parma. Discorso funebre recitato in Malta nella Chiesa de’Cavalieri Gerosolimitani li 19. Aprile 1792. in occasione di trasportar da essa alla Reggia Veneta Nave La Fama l’Illustre Spoglio del Cavalier Procurator Angelo Emo Supremo Ammiraglio della Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia. Venezia (1792), VII. Parma gives 4 January as the date of birth.

Roberto Cessi. “EMO”, in Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (Treccani), XIII, (1932), 928-929. Cessi writes that Emo was born on 3 January. A recent publication (Enciclopedia Zanichelli. Roma 1992-1995, 612) says that Emo was born in Malta. The author is grateful to Dr Vincent Depasquale for indicating this source.

[2] Vincenzo Castelli. Fasti di Angelo Emo. Siracusa 1792, 7, ftn. 1. V. Castelli de’ Principi di Torremuzza, a native of Palermo, was a Knight Commander of the Order of St.John. In 1792 he was the Prodomo della Lingeria.

[3] Ibid. 8-9.

[4] Ibid., 11-15.

[5] Ibid., 15, 41.

A finely-engraved portrait of Emo was published in Venice by Teodoro Vieri to commemorate this event. It depicted the Admiral standing on the quay with guns and soldiers by his side, with the coastline of Susa in the background, beyond numerous vessels of the Venetian fleet. The picture was engraved by Marco Alvise Pitteri (1702-1786), a disciple of Piazzetta, who gave it the title: Angelo Emo K. Patricio Veneto. Commandante Supremo della Flotta Veneta nella spedizione militare a Tunisi. Size: 280 x 200 mm. (See Catalogue 26, [19761, Libreria Sforzini, Via della Vite 43, Roma).

[6] Enciclopedia (Treccani), op. cit., 928.

[7] Victor Mallia Milanes. Venice and Hospitaller Malta 1530-1798. Malta 1992, xviii, xx, xxi, 181-204.

[8] Ibid., 269.

[9] Fortunato Panzavecchia. L’ultimo periodo della storia di Malta sotto il governo dell’Ordine Gerosolimitano. Malta 1835, 267. Castelli, op. cit., 24-25, 31, 34-35, 39-40.

According to Castelli, the fleet first arrived on 23 June 1785 and left on 11 July for Susa. It came again on 8 November 1785 after the bombardment of La Goletta for a stay of four months prior to the attack on Sfax. On its third visit, on 24 May 1786, there were three days of celebrations with illuminations, fireworks and gun salutes before the fleet left Marsamuscetto Harbour on 4 July. It came back on 20 August from the destruction of Bizerta and two days later the Grand Master, Fra Emanuel de Rohan Polduc (1775-1797), famoso per le sue virtù, e per i rarissimi talenti, sent his gratulatory greetings to Emo.

[10] Castelli, op. cit., 41-42.

[11] Ibid., 62-63. Panzavecchia, op. cit., 294.

The naval squadron was made up of these vessels: the flagship Fama, the vessel Sirena, the frigate Palma, the cutter Enea, the xebec Esploratore and a galliot.

[12] Castelli, op. cit., 63.

[13] Panzavecchia, op. cit., 294-295.

[14] The Protomedicus was at the head of the medical profession. He was usually a senior practitioner who had shown outstanding ability during a long medical experience. (Paul Cassar. Medical History of Malta. London 1964, 273-274.)

[15] Lorenzo They (Thej, Theij, Thein), son of Antonio They and Elisabetta Triganza, was born around 1716 according to one source and around 1724 according to another source. He married Maddalena Rizzo at Vittoriosa on 29 September 1747 and died in Valletta on 28 January 1807. His wife died on 26 September 1808. They lived in Quartiere 7 della Fama within the parochial limits of Porto Salvo in Valletta. They had a large family, including Gioacchino who became a Conventual Chaplain of the Order on 17 July 1783 at the age of 21. When the Faculty of Medicine was set up in 1771 at the new University, Dr. Lorenzo, Physician for the Poor of Valletta, was appointed a Member of the Medical College. In 1783 he was the Protomedicus.

[16] Vincenzo Marchese. Relazione degli onori compartiti in Malta dal Sag. Ord. Ger. al cadavere del nobil uomo Angiolo Emo... ai 19 Aprile 1792. [Malta 1792, 2].

Dr Francesco Gravagna was born to Giuseppe and Teresa Gravagna. The birth of a son to this couple on 9 January 1753 seems to refer to him, although Francesco was the last name given to him at the baptismal font, the first name being Teodoro. In the Status Animarum records of Porto Salvo in Valletta his age in 1790 was stated to be 36, and his wife Costanza and their five children lived with his parents in Quartiere 4 of Valletta in the parochial limits of Porto Salvo, Strada Principale di S. Domenico sotto il Convento, probably at 148 Strada dei Mercanti which was his residence when he died. During the French occupation he was one of six doctors appointed to sit on the medical body (Jury de Santé) that was set up. He was the doctor who on 16 April 1813 diagnosed the first case when the plague epidemic broke out and he became one of its victims: he died on 16 August 1813 at his home while acting as Protomedicus for Dr. (Luigi?) Caruana who was undergoing quarantine. He is not to be confused with his namesake who graduated in 1836 and who, in 1847, was one of two Maltese doctors who volunteered to undergo an experiment of the effect of ether inhalation on the human body.

[17] Marchese, op. cit., 2. Vincenzo Bonello. “La morte e i funerali di Angelo Emo a Malta” in Archivio Storico di Malta, Roma, Anno VIII, Fasc. III (1937), 363.

[18] Angelo (Angiolo) di Ventura, son of Sebastiano and Dorotea, married Anna Maria Fenech on 18 April 1762 at the Church of Porto Salvo, Valletta. He survived his wife who died on 20 May 1808 at the age of 76. In 1790 Angelo was sent to Licata in Sicily to cure a serious illness that struck the daughter-in-law of Baron Frangipani Celestri. He lived at 102, Strada Reale, Valletta.

[19] Marchese, op. cit., 3.

[20] The speronara was a swift boat, used particularly when there was an urgent message to carry.

[21] Raimondo Albino Menville was born in Malta on 22 February 1715. Conventual Chaplain in the Italian Langue of the Order of St John (Priory of Pisa) on 6 November 1728. Prior of the Conventual Church of St John 26 February 1785. President of the Congregazione delle Povere Inferme on 19 February 1796. Died at his residence in Valletta, 41 Strada dei Mercanti, on 6 May 1801.

Charles-Abel de Loras was born in 1736. He belonged to the Langue of Auvergne. In 1784 he was a party to a plot to bring Russia into the Mediterranean, a scheme favoured by Naples where he was very active. He was appointed the Order’s Ambassador in Rome and, when Cagliostro started organizing masonic lodges after his arrival there in 1789, Loras became one of his disciples. When the Holy Office found compromising papers in his house he ran away to Naples where he stayed in hiding until he retired to Malta. On 7 August 1797 he was appointed Procurator of the Treasury for the Grand Master. He was an intelligent man, full of activity, charm and tact, but de Rohan found him undisciplined and noisy. He was very good looking and had a most sentimental intrigue with Contessa Silvia Cartoni Verza.

Ferdinand von Hompesch was born on 9 November 1744 at the castle of Bolheim, near Düsseldorf. He had the title of Bailiff of Brandenburg (1787) and held the office of Grand Bailiff in 1796. For 25 years he was the Order’s Ambassador - Minister Plenipotentiary - from the Imperial Court of Vienna. Grand Master 17 July 1797. He surrendered the Maltese islands to Napoleon in June 1798. Died at Montpellier 12 May 1805.

Fra Mariano Cascaxarès became one of the Commissioners of the Mint on 16 March 1781. President and Commissioner of the Congregazione dei Vascelli 4 March 1784-18 August 1785. One of the Commissioners of the Congregation of the Holy Infirmary for its Good Government 29 April 1796. Cascaxarès was one of those listed in a document Noms des Conjurés de la Revolution de Malte (examined by the present writer in the State Archives at Prague), together with Ransijat, Dolomieu, Toussard and others.

[22] Calcedonio’s father, Gaetano Azopardi (known as Azzopardinu) was the Senior Physician of the Holy Infirmary (Sacra Infermeria). In recognition of his sterling services as a doctor for over forty years, he was created Baron of Buleben on 23 July 1777, but this ‘personal’ title could not be automatically inherited. By a Rescript of 25 April 1778 Grand Master de Rohan extended the title to his son Calcedonio who received the investiture as Baron of Buleben on 10 August 1788. He died ten years later. According to the Status Animarum of 1790 he lived in house number 5, Quartiere 18, in the parochial limits of St Paul Shipwrecked, Valletta. His age was given as 36 and his family then consisted of his wife Saveria and his children Giuseppe, Antonia, Vincenzo and Concetta. According to an Italian journal, Baron Calcedonio was Membro di varie Società Letterarie d’Italia, stimato da tutti per i suoi talenti, e perizia nelle Belle Lettere (Antologia Romana, Tom. XIX, No. XIV, Ott. 1792, 105).

[23] Sarria church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, was designed by Mattia Preti and the first stone was laid on 8 December 1676. It replaced a small chapel erected on the site a century earlier by Fra Martino de Sarria Navarro. The large house to the left of the church was demolished in 1856 to make room for the government school.

[24] Marchese, op. cit., 3.

[25] Parma, op. cit., ftn 25, §2.

Captain Parma, born in Verona, was held in high esteem by his Admiral. Apart from his proficiency in military duties, he was well-versed in the sciences and during Emo’s illness he wrote some poetry (Ms. letter dated 18 April 1792 from Giovanni Battista Albergotti, a Knight of Malta, to a colleague, Count Giovanni de Lazara. The author is grateful to Dr Giovanni Bonello for allowing him to quote from this letter, which also gives a short account of Emo’s funeral).

[26] The Tamburo Maggiore was at the time Marc’Antonio Ganado. Antonio, his father, came to Malta from Cantalapiedra (province of Salamanca, Spain) in the first quarter of the 18th century and in 1721 he married Beatrice Mifsud at the Church of Porto Salvo in Valletta. The author of this article is a descendant of Giuseppe Ganado, Marc’Antonio’s brother, born in Malta on 13 August 1730.

[27] Marchese, op. cit., 4-5.

[28] The Custom House was commenced in 1774 and it is usually attributed to Giuseppe Bonnici, but there is reason to believe, according to Leonard Mahoney, that it was completed by Stefano Ittar, as it is a reworking of Ittar’s National Library in Valletta (L. Mahoney, 5000 years of architecture in Malta. Malta 1996, 320.)

[29] According to Vincenzo Bonello (op. cit., 367, ftn. 8) this gate was already blocked up in 1937, when it formed part of the Power Station building.

[30] V. Castelli described Dr Locano as peritissimo nelle belle lettere, non meno, che nella Medicina.

Giorgio Locano was born around 1733. According to Paul Cassar, he graduated in medicine in 1749 at the University of Montpellier. In 1751 he was elected member of the French Royal Academy of Sciences. Back in Malta he spent some time as physician in the Order’s navy (1754), later physician to the Women’s Hospital and District Medical Officer of Valletta. When in 1771 the Medical College was set up at the new University, together with Dr Lorenzo They, Dr Locano was one of its members and he was entrusted with the teaching of botany and other medical subjects. On 10 October 1780 he was appointed to the Chair of Medicine which he occupied till 1797. In 1784 he was receiving a monthly salary of 18 scudi as the prison doctor and 60 scudi as doctor to the Casetta dei Poveri. Locano wrote short Latin treatises on the physiology and anatomy of the female reproductive system, on the duct of the spinal medulla, and on the functions of the muscular system and of the nerve-cells. He lived in Strada San Paolo, Valletta.

[31] Vincenzo Castelli. Funerali di Angelo Emo... fatt’in Malta l’anno 1792. Malta 1792, 10-11. Marchese, op. cit., 6-7. A detailed description of the funeral, accompanied wih rough drawings of the catafalque and the pontoon, was compiled by Giuseppe Bartolo (NLM, Ms. 797, brought to the author’s attention by William Soler).

[32] NLM, AOM Liber Conciliorum Status, vol. 274, fol. 201.

[33] Bonello, op. cit., 369.

An engraving of Canova’s monument was published in Opere scelte di Antonio Canova incise da Réveil e dilucidate da Domenico Anzelmi. Napoli 1842, 69.

[34] Sigismondo Dimech was born in Valletta on 27 December 1769. In 1790 he married Antonina Savona from Vittoriosa, who gave birth to Ferdinando who became a sculptor. Sigismondo sculpted in stone, marble and wood. Emo’s monument was worked in marble. He died on 8 May 1853 at the age of 84. (The author thanks Dr Eugene F. Montanaro for the biographical data on Dimech).

The inscription on the monument reads:


Trans. - To God, the Best and Greatest - To the Knight Angelo Emo, Commander-in-Chief (Admiral) of the Venetian fleet, who performed the dignified procuratorship of Saint Mark and all the offices of war and peace with equal honour and glory, whose excellent valour with supreme proficiency restored naval commerce which was increased and protected with outstanding dedication, the temerity of Giulia Cesarea (Teurez ? - Algiers?) in Algeria was disrupted by his judiciousness and force of arms, the walls of Tunisian towns were razed in a raging war, the insecurities of the sea subdued by magnificent strength of character, and who bound to himself with admirable benevolence the sentiments of his country and of European princes. - The Knight Tommaso Condulmier, commander of the same fleet, has erected with a sense of gratefulness and sorrow this monument to his most meritorious master whose heart is here entombed. - He died in Malta on 1 March 1792. (Grateful thanks to Dr Vincent Depasquale for providing this translation).

[35] Raphael Bonnici Calì. The Church of Our Lady of Victory - The first building in Valletta. Malta 1966, 20.

[36] Bonello, op. cit., 11.

[37] NLM, AOM, loc. cit.

[38] Marchese, op. cit., 6.

[39] Bonello, op. cit., 364, 369-370.

[40] Reports on the working of Government Departments during the financial year 1931-32. Malta 1933, N 12, 16-17.

[41] Bonello, op. cit., 364, 369-370.

[42] The author expresses his grateful and respectful thanks to His Excellency Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, President of the Republic of Malta, for allowing him to examine and illustrate the paintings.

[43] The titles have been transcribed from the illustrations accompanying V. Bonello’s article.

[44] Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886. The Malta Court at the London Exhibition of 1886. Catalogue of objects exhibited. London 1886, xi, 84 (items 2603-2604), 95 (items 2603-2604).

[45] Annual Report of the Museum Department for 1950-1951, xxii.

[46] Canon Giuseppe Cauchi was the son of Vincenzo Cauchi and Carmela née Zarb. He was born in Floriana on 7 July 1866 and he died on 7 September 1949 at his residence 166 Boschetto Road, Rabat.

In virtue of Article XVI of a secret will drawn up on 15 August 1949 he bequeathed to the Museum Department two pictures representing the transport to Venice of the remains of Admiral Angelo Emo. He ordered that each picture should be labelled: Collegiale Giuseppe Cauchi donavit post mortem, meaning of course causa mortis. The Rev. Cauchi was a Collegiale of Saint Paul’s Grotto, Rabat.

Besides, Canon Cauchi left by way of legacy to private individuals a number of oil paintings on canvas which included Our Lady, the Martyrdom of St Peter, the Beheading of St Paul, another large painting of St Paul, and St Sebastian.

[47] Giovanni Battista Albergotti was born in Arezzo on 17 May 1761. He belonged to the Priory of Pisa in the Italian Langue. He was received into the Order on 20 July 1781, and lived at 170/172 Strada dei Mercanti, Valletta (opposite the Jesuits’ Church), which belonged to the Fondazione Albergotti. According to V. Denaro, by a Government decree dated 12 March 1824, the premises were handed back to Chev. Tommaso Albergotti, who was to enjoy the property on condition that a certificate be produced every year attesting that he was still living. By a further decree of 4 February 1835, the Albergottis were allowed to sell the property and invest the proceeds in Tuscany.

[48] Count Giovanni Antonio de Lazara (Lazzara), a native of Padua, was born on 28 September 1744: to Niccolò and Margherita Polcastro. He became a Knight of the Order in the Italian Langue, Priory of Venice, and he went to Malta in 1789. When the Lazara correspondence was sold by Robson Lowe in 1987, the compiler of the catalogue wrote that there was a Count Antonio de Lazara, whose relationship to Giovanni could not be established, and that both Giovanni and Antonio were Knights of the Order of Santiago. Count Giovanni de Lazara is registered in the Ruolo delli Cavalieri... ricevuti nella Veneranda Lingua d’Italia della Sagra Religione Gerosolimitana ... (Malta 1789, 38) as Giovan Antonio de Lazzara, and there is no other Knight with the same family name. It could very well be that Giovanni was at times addressed by his second, instead of his first, name. This custom was not uncommon in those days and it was even carried into the nineteenth century. On 9 September 1790 Gio Antonio was granted permission by Grand Master de Rohan to return to his native land. He was a great collector of prints, which numbered almost two thousand when he died on 11 February 1833.

[49] Robson Lowe. The Knights of Malta. The Lazara correspondence. London 1987, 26.

With the introduction of British metallic currency in June 1825, the Maltese unit of account, the scudo, became equivalent to 1 shilling 8 pence: thus, eight scudi made up one English pound.

[50] Robson Lowe, op. cit., 28, 31.

The quotations have been taken from the translation given in the catalogue from the Italian original. In regard to the quotation referring to “a picture like the one by Console Bellata”, it is doubtful whether Bellata (or Bellato as found in a letter of 5 October 1795) was the one who painted the picture. If the Italian original says del Console Bellata it would mean that the picture belonged to Bellata rather than that it was made by him. It is not stated in the letter which country Bellata represented. However, he was not the Venetian Consul in Malta. As from 22 March 1766 Antonio Poussielgue was the Consul for Venice on the island, and in 1794 the Vice-Consul was a certain Fiorini who married in Malta. From 1 February 1793 the Knight Fra Antonio Miari was the resident Venetian Minister in Malta; he was at the time 35 years of age.

[51] Colonial and Indian Exhibition, op. cit., 84, 95.

[52] Bonello, op. cit., 370.

[53] NLM, Libr. Ms. 1020 (8).

According to the Status Animarum for 1790 of the Parish of St Paul Shipwrecked in Valletta a Giuseppe Troisi, aged 64, lived in Floriana (Quartiere 1, Abitazione 13) with his wife Eufemia (aged 43) and their two children Maria (aged 18) and Saverio who was 17 years of age, born therefore in 1773. The parochial records for that year show that on 20 October 1773 a son was born to Giuseppe Troisi and Eufemia Menville and named Joannes, Marinas, Franciscus, Theodorus, Xaverius. It was not unusual for a child to be known by a name which was not the first one registered at baptism. In the same parish records, on 15 September 1848 the death was registered of Maria Troisi (aged 45), wife of Saverio.

[54] In the manuscript document extant in Prague mentioned in ftn. 21, Poussielgue Père et fils head the list of those Maltese who betrayed the Order. A Relation par le Commandeur Muller on Napoleon’s capture of Malta drawn up in September 1798 mentions toute le famille, maison et societé Poussielgue Consul Imperial among les veritables chefs de la trahison. (NLM, Libr. Ms. 420, 247v.).

In 1790 Antonio Poussielgue lived in Quartiere 4 in the parochial limits of St Paul Shipwrecked with his wife Anna (aged 45) and his children Matteo (aged 21) and Angelo (aged 3). Antonio was then 57 years of age. The family had three servants, two females and one male, and three slaves, Maria di S. Biagio, Anna di S. Marco and Salvatore di S. Publio.

For other details on the Poussielgue family in Malta see “Pinto’s majolica factory” by Giovanni Bonello in The Sunday Times (Malta), 9 June 1996, 42-43, and “Madame Poussielgue leaves her family after 198 years” by Patrice Sanguy in The Sunday Times (Malta), 7 July 1996, 58-59.

[55] According to Bénézit, Rizzo executed paintings in Naples in the nineteenth century (E. Bénézit. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays... Paris 1976, VIII; 789).

[56] Eight goldsmiths of the Troisi family are recorded: Carlo (1697), Paolo (1720), Massimiliano (1721), Pietro Paolo (1736), Pietro (1738), Gio Andrea (1738), Francesco (1755), Aloisio (1774). (See Jimmy Farrugia, Antique Maltese Domestic Silver. Malta 1992, ad indicem).

It is possible that Pietro Paolo and Pietro were one and the same person. A goldsmith who was also active as an engraver at the turn of the 19th century was Gioacchino Rapinett, and Francesco Zimelli engraved portraits and costumes in the last quarter of the 18th century.

[57] There are two engravings by Enrico Ittar in the Marchesi print collection at the Cathedral Museum, Mdina. One picture after Guido Reni is signed Erico Ittar Scu.; the other is a large picture (530 x 460 mm.) of Arco di Settimio Severo Coll’escavazione fatta nel 1803 fino al piano antico di Roma. This is unsigned, but it has a pencil note which reads: Del. ed Inciso da Enrico Ittar. According to Canon John Azzopardi, Curator of the Museum, this note is in the handwriting of Saverio Marchesi. Thanks are due to Canon Azzopardi for his help.

[58] It was a renowned French Knight, Déodat Tancrède de Gratet de Dolomieu (1750-1801), who made the necessary arrangements for Stefano Ittar to cross over from Sicily to Malta. On 17 January 1784 the Order’s Treasury refunded to Dolomieu the sum of Onze di Sicilia 10, equivalent to Scudi 53.5.10 in Maltese money, for Ittar’s passage expenses, as well as Sc. 100 which Dolomieu had paid Ittar as the first instalment of his salary (NLM, AOM 694, 977). After spending nine months in Malta working as an architect for the Order, Ittar was given 800 Scudi on 2 October 1784 to travel to Sicily and on account of works he would be carrying out on his return; he left for Messina by the speronara of Padrone Valentino. On the same date, in the records of Notary Francesco Mamo the Commun Tesoro took out a life insurance (at a premium of Sc. 3.1.10) on Stefano Ittar for the period of six months to cover the said sum. On 23 March 1785 Ittar was paid Onze di Sicilia 35 (Sc. 187.1.5.) which he had spent to go to Sicily and on 19 August 1785 he received a further sum of Sc. 77.6.3 to cover the cost of bringing over from Sicily his wife and children, apparently eight in number. Another four children, Giuseppe, Giorgio, Giovanni and Eugenia, were born in Malta between 1786 and 1790.

[59] NLM, AOM 659, p. 214. Ittar’s appointment was not mentioned by those who have written on the Ittars or on the history of architecture in Malta, and his name is not listed by Alison Hoppen in the article “Military Engineers in Malta 1530-1798” published in Annals of Science, 38 (1981), 413-433.

[60] According to tradition, Stefano Ittar committed suicide when structural defects started appearing in the construction of the Bibliotheca. Some writers have expressed serious doubts about this story. The author has come across these entries in the Libro Maestro della Cassa Conservatoria 1789-1790 under the heading Fabriche Nuove - Biblioteca: 26 October 1789 - Sc. 80 paid to Francesco Caruana p[er] danno nel muro 28 June 1791 - Sc. 50 to Pietro Cauchi p[er] danni (NLM, AOM 697, pp. 123, 140).

[61] V. Bonello wrote that when Ittar took his own life toccò al maltese Antonio Cachia completare l’edificio (“Posizione storica dell’architettura maltese dal ’500 al ’700”, in L’architettura a Malta dalla Preistoria all’ottocento. Atti del XV Congresso di Storia dell’Architettura - Malta, 11-16 Settembre 1967, p. 456), while Edward Sammut was even more categorical: “There is no doubt that, after Ittar’s death, the Bibliotheca was completed by Cachia in his offical capacity” (“A note on Stefano and Sebastiano Ittar,” in Proceedings of History Week 1982, M. Buhagiar (ed.), Malta 1983, pp. 20-27). When Leonard Mahoney was writing his last book on the history of architecture in Malta, the present author informed him that he had found evidence which contradicted these statements. Indeed, Mahoney made a passing reference to this information: “There is some evidence, however, that it was completed by Stefano’s son Sebastiano.” (L. Mahoney, op. cit., 319).

The said Libro Maestro and other records in the Order’s archives prove that it was Sebastiano Ittar who carried on his father's work (See AOM 697, p. 123; AOM 698, p. 140; AOM 731, pp. 12, 25, 33, 48, 57, 82, 83, 97, 127, 142, 145, 161, 165; AOM 732, pp. 26, 38, 50, 66, 80). Probably, Bonello and Sammut settled on Capo Mastro Cachia because they thought Sebastiano was too young at the time of his father’s death. They might have been misled by all those writers who gave 1778 as the year of Sebastiano’s birth. This is obviously incorrect, as Sebastiano would in that case have been still a teenager when he produced the engravings for the publications of St Priest and Barbaro. The Status Animarum of the parish church of Porto Salvo for the years 1785 and 1787 both show that Sebastiano Ittar was born ten years earlier. The year 1778 might have originated from a printing error when it should have read 1768. Indeed, according to a very recent publication Sebastiano was born in Catania on 29 May 1768 (Luigi Sarullo. Dizionario degli artisti siciliani. Architettura Vol. I Palermo 1993, 232). He died in the same city on 20 October 1847 (Anon. Cenni biografici sulla vita e le opere degli architetti Stefano e Sebastiano Ittar. Palermo 1880, 12.) The author is grateful to Antonio Espinosa Rodriguez for the reference to Sarullo’s dictionary: and for helping the author to examine the watercolours at the Maritime Museum.

[62] NLM, AOM 732, p. 80. On 1 October 1795 Sebastiano Ittar received the last payment of salary amounting to Sc. 53. 11. 13, as against the previous payments of 100 Scudi per month.

[63] Albert Ganado. “Through the artists’ eyes: Views of Malta and Gozo before 1900,” in 7th Malta International Book Fair 26-29 October 1989 (Catalogue). Malta 1989, 59.