Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 11(1993)2(215-216)

[p.213] Reviews 1993

Charles Cini (ed.), The Art of the Medal / L'Arte della Medaglia, Published by The Cathedral Museum – Mdina, Malta 1993, Softbound, pp. 77.

Recently the Mdina Cathedral Museum has been the recipient of two important sets of donations: the Dr. John A. Cauchi Bequest of paintings and drawings, and a large and fine assortment of medals, the gift of the Associazione Italiana della Medaglia, Fr. Charles Cini SDB, and the Hon. Minister for Youth and the Arts, Dr. Michael Frendo. The medals were officially presented on the 12th November, 1993, on the occasion of the Cathedral Museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary. This latter donation further enhances the already significant collection of coins and medals possessed by the Cathedral Museum. It is well to remember that The Central Bank of Malta, through the Friends of the Cathedral Museum, regularly presents to the Museum its current issues of coins and medals.

To coincide with the presentation, an exhibition of the medals was held in the Museum. The bilingual The Art of the Medal / L’Arte della Medaglia, partly sponsored by APS Bank and printed by Printwell, is essentially a catalogue of this bequest. The editor appears to have taken special pains to give everybody due credit so that the prelim section is somewhat overloaded by lists of members of the organising committees, a foreword, a preface, a presentation and an introduction.

The catalogue proper is in three sections. The first part illustrates the donation from the Associazione Italiana della Medaglia, the second part the medals presented by Fr. Charles Cini and finally part three records the gift made by the Hon. Minister for Youth and the Arts. The book is concluded by a list of artists and a contents page.

[p.216] Although the entire collection is listed only a selection is actually reproduced in black and white illustrations.

The medals encompass a rich variety of themes and commemorate diverse events, organisations and personalities. Their size, medium, style and technique vary and so does their quality and artistic merit. They range from straight forward traditional designs to impressionistic, expressionistic and abstract renderings. Here craftsmanship often combines with creative artistry to produce masterpieces that surpass the constraints set by the medals’ natural limitations and size.

Seen within this general context it is indeed a great pleasure to note what remarkable high standards our own medallist Noel Galea Bason has managed to attain. His dexterity and command of the medium combines with fertile creative powers and a strong personality. His oevre is outstanding, fears no comparison and is exceptionally beautiful.

Most of the medals are undoubtedly veritable works of art; a few less so. But, whatever the individual artistic quality or merit of the medals, the entire collection is representative of the current state of the medallists’ art. It is a pity that this catalogue should lack a proper critical analysis of the collection as well as adequate biographical information on the artists whose works are here represented. Nonetheless it is a valuable guide to the collection, a fitting commemoration of an important and generous gift and a valuable tool to connoisseurs, numismatists and scholars.

The recto and verso of the medal, especially coined to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Cathedral Museum, respectively emblazons the front and back covers of this catalogue. This attractive and beautifully produced commemorative medal was designed by Claudia Pini and is available in either silver or bronze.

Antonio Espinosa-Rodriguez