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Count Saverio Marchese (1757-1833): his picture gallery and his
bequest to the
Source: Proceedings of History Week 1982. [
[p.28] Count Saverio Marchese (1757-1833): his Picture-Gallery and his Bequest
Picture collecting in
of the Knights, the nobility, wealthy people and a few scholars and art lovers
centuries ago. Local and foreign artists commissioned to decorate our churches
and palaces were also asked to decorate private houses and furnish them with
portraits and other paintings. Two art collectors in the 18th century, Marquis
Carlo Antonio Barbaro (1721-1793) and Marquis Testaferrata are known to have
organized private museums at
respectively, following the example of Gian Francesco Abela (1582-1655) who in
the 17th century organized a five-room archaeological museum at Marsa, known as
Cabinetto San Giacomo which he later left to the Jesuits and which was the
corner stone of the Cabinetto di Antichità, the predecessor of our National
Inventories of the many art collections in private houses may have
been compiled by their respective owners in their own lifetime but they were
certainly compiled in the interests of heirs and claimants immediately after
their death. Many of these inventories are scattered in private archives but the
public archives, namely the Notarial Archives, the Archives of the Law Courts,
the newly organized Archives of the Fabrica di San Pietro and the Acta Civilia
of the Maltese Inquisition and the volumes of the Spogli of the members of the
study or even a list of these inventories would enormously contribute to our
knowledge of art history in
An important art collection in the early 19th century was that of
Count Saverio Marchese, fourth son of Cavaliere Giuseppe Isidoro and Serafina
Marmier.  Born in
at Collegio Novo, run by the Padri Scolopi. On
Anna Maria Camilleri Bianchi of Senglea: the nuptial mass was celebrated by the
Inquisitor himself in the chapel of the Holy Office.  Saverio was greatly
respected by the Order and the Church. On 8 March 1793 Grandmaster De Rohan
invested him with the personal title of Count of Maimon.  For four years —
between 1805 and 1809 he directed the Public Works Department as Commissario
Generale dei Beni Publici. On
companionship (Cavaliere) of St Michael and St George was bestowed on him. 
The Count kept his art collection at his residence in
at Attard.  He died on
Marchese’s main contribution was in the field of Culture and
Education. In 1823 he was appointed a member of the Committee set up to make a
minute investigation into the system of education in the
Council of the University under the chairmanship of the Hon. John Hookham Frere.
Count Saverio Marchese cultivated literature, especially poetry, 
the arts, history and especially local art history,  archaeology,  and
also the [p.30] Maltese language. 
An obituary note in the Malta Government Gazette referred to his
death as a public loss and said of him:
‘As a nobleman of great erudition and well versed in ancient and
modern literature no less than for the urbanity of his disposition and pleasing
manners, his friendship was always sought and valued, by the most distinguished
have been read in public and private circles, with delight and admiration and
his taste for the fine arts attracted to his house visits from the most
distinguished foreigners that have from time to time landed in our islands and
who never failed to express their high sense of his accomplishments and
political refinement.’ 
Above all Saverio Marchese was a connoisseur of art and a collector
of paintings, drawings and especially prints. He was enough fortunate to acquire
at moderate prices a part of the precious collection of old prints belonging to
Cavalier Francesco Seratti of
is worth recounting. Francesco Seratti was the Grand Prior of the Order of Santo
1796 Secretary of State in
was attacked by pirates and taken (with his collection) to
in 1811.  His precious collection of prints  was [p.31] acquired by a
Turk and sent to
sold the collection to Canon Bellanti  who resold a good part of it to John
Robert Steward of the Commercial Firm Struthers Steward and Co.,  residing
neighbour of Count Marchese, Steward was also a collector and connoisseur of old
prints and drawings.  Before leaving
moderate prices a part of his collection to Count Marchese, a second part he
auctioned at his residence on 2 and 3 March 1815  and a third part he
[p.32] Of all the old collectors Saverio Marchese was one of the
earliest, to my knowledge, to have left his collection of paintings, drawings,
prints and art books as a legacy to a public institution —
Moreover the Count kept a most detailed register of all his
purchases from 1793 till his death in 1833. The register, running into forty
manuscript pages, is entitled PRIMO COSTO. Spesa della Raccolta di Stampe,
Quadri e Disegni ed anche argenti e d’altri giocali fatte dal Conte Saverio
Marchese fin dal anno 1792. The purchases over a span of forty years amounted to
about four hundred (an average of ten each year). About a hundred persons are
documented to have provided art treasures: including painters and artists,
second hand dealers, local craftsmen as jewellers, sculptors, builders,
silversmiths and occasional sellers.  Through agents or intermediaries works
of art were also [p.33] received from
prints, maps, frames, books, manuscripts, handmade paper, furniture, silverware,
some jewellery, coins and medals, ceramics and even a relic. Entries are
registered by date of acquisition, and give details of name, surname, at times
nickname and location of seller, description of object, artistic attribution and
occasionally a few artistic comments, older provenance when available and any
eventual disposal by donation, sale or part exchange. Sincere thanks are due to
Dr. John A. Cauchi who brought the register to my attention, thus giving me the
opportunity to document the provenance of many paintings, old master drawings
and especially engravings and etchings.
This register records 85 acquisitions of paintings and these
pictures must have formed a substantial, if not the main part, of Count Saverio
The 85 paintings acquired include 26 religious subjects, a good
number of still life paintings and landscapes, some battle-pieces and one
portrait of Grandmaster Perellos. Only a few of the religious paintings are of a
devotional character; the greater part includes popular biblical scenes as well
as saints pictured in the background of a landscape. Among the religious
subjects are some of a high artistic quality as Scourging of
Elsheimer and Adam and Eve by Bernardo Strozzi.
All the pictures, with the exception of 18, are given an attribution
— the attributions given are as good as those of their contemporaries. The
collector scrupulously distinguishes between an original and a copy, between a
fairly certain and a dubious attribution, between an artist or his pupil or his
style. In four cases he gives an alternative attribution (Guido or Sirani,
Baciccio or Cangiagio, Locatelli or Van Falens, Correggio or Turchetti). In
three cases of landscapes he records that the figures were added by another
artist. Placido Costanzi completed a landscape of Van Bloemen, Filippo Lauri
completed a work by Agostino Tassi and the elder son of the painter Schranz
completed a landscape by Giuseppe Grech.
Fifty nine names of artists are recorded — thirty four of these are
of an [p.34] Italian origin. Seven artists have a Flemish or a Dutch origin,
namely Jourdaens, Wadder, Sadeler, Snyders, Bernaerd, Van Falens and Van
Bloemen. Another five artists belong to the French school, namely Volaire,
Petignon, Bisson, Perelle and of course Favray. The Maltese interest is limited
to two Maltese artists, Michele Busuttil and Giuseppe Grech and three others who
had settled in
An analysis of Marchese’s register of purchases reveals that the
main bulk (sixty out of eighty fine paintings) was acquired in the first decade
of the 19th century and more precisely between 1813 and 1817 when no less than
50 paintings were purchased. Those were also the years of the acquisition of the
Acquisitions are recorded from the painters Giorgio Pullicino,
Busuttil, Schranz and the Roman landscape painter Filippo Benucci, who lived for
some time in
one of the finest paintings in the collection, Adam and Eve
Four acquisitions were obtained from the
Attard Don Martino Zerafa, Salvatore Ittar, Mastro Antonio Ebanista, Signor
Ricci Romano, Signor Zamboni Romano, Signor Medeschini. Mr Henry Steward
(possibly another member of the Commercial Firm Struthers Steward & Co) and the
second hand dealers Mattio II Gaup, Celestre, Mustaccia and Cabaretta all
provided Saverio Marchese with pictures. An acquisition is also recorded from
the inheritance of a certain Mr Bruno.
The largest group (sixteen paintings) was acquired from Marchese’s
great friend Filippo Benucci who was himself a painter and designer of
lithographs.  It is curious that Benucci’s lithographs
drawings, [p.36] engraved by Filippo Giuntotardi, do not figure in what is left
of Marchese’s collection of prints. Benucci arrived in
with prints including some by Dürer, Callot, etc. Marchese also provided Benucci
with ceramics and other objects.
A group of nine paintings was acquired from the Maltese painter
Giorgio Pullicino whereas a total of eight pictures was purchased from the
second hand dealer Mattio.
Only three pictures were bought at what may be considered an
excessive price: a Wolves and Dogs, attributed to Snyders, bought for 250 scudi,
a canvas showing David purchased for 150 scudi a Still Life painting by Nicholas
Bernaerd, also acquired for 150 scudi. The last one is not known to be extant;
the first one preserved in the
although an excellent copy — of an original by Snyders preserved at the Brera
The great majority of Saverio Marchese’s collection was indeed
acquired at very moderate prices. To quote a few examples: two fine 16th century
oils on copper,
of Adam Elsheimer, only cost ten scudi; the Scourging of Christ by
Giovane was acquired for fifteen scudi whereas the famous
Bernardo Strozzi was only bought for 10 scudi (three times that amount was paid
to Schranz for the picture’s relining and restoration).
A few valuable items, however, received a fair estimate of their
true value. These include the fine oval on copper by Orizzonte and Placido
Costanzi (51 scudi) and the two grand harbour scenes by Antonio Schranz each
costing 60 scudi.
Not that all these purchases were paid for in cash. Thirteen
pictures were paid in kind or partly in kind. Exchanges were accepted especially
by Benucci and Mattio, the second hand dealer. Marchese offered in exchange
other pictures, prints, ceramics, books (included one on the Index),
manuscripts, a silver clock, an ivory pax and a stock of old linen tassels.
Marchese’s register does not fail to note a few subsequent donations
and [p.36] sales. The donations included a Nativity by Michele Busuttil.
Baroncino Sceberras D’Amico bought from Marchese a few paintings, namely two
landscapes by Locatelli. A Head on panel by Correggio or Turchetti purchased for
three scudi and four tarì was restored in
scudi and two tarì and resold to an Englishman, Mr Corner, for the value of 102
scudi: the exorbitant profit of 86 scudi and 6 tarì being taken care of by
Marchese’s friend, Benucci.
Although the main bulk of the Marchese collection was presumably
obtained by purchase, the collection certainly included other items acquired by
inheritance from the family. These included the family portraits and a number of
canvases painted by a great friend of the Marchese family, Antoine Favray. 
Several members of the family had been portrayed in
others were portrayed by Favray, including Saverio himself and his wife
Serafina.  The collection also included a portrait or self-portrait of
The collection also included 26 pictures acquired from the side of
his wife Anna Maria, all listed in an appendix to their last will and including
originals by Francesco Zahra, Giuseppe Arena, Manno of Palermo and Melchior Roos
as well as copies by Stefano Erardi. The group included 6 still life paintings,
8 religious subjects and 8 family portraits.
Finally the Count’s collection also included a small group of copies
on canvas in the Count’s own hand. Saverio was fond of documenting pictures of
historical interest and also fond of drawing on paper objects of archaeological
[p.37] value. Detailed descriptions of historical interest accompanied these
In his last will stipulated in the acts of Notary Cristofano Frendo
priceless collection of paintings, drawings, prints and art books. He did not
want to let the collection disperse but tied it up with the conditions of a
pre-legacy, except for the family portraits, the paintings belonging to his wife
and the pictures located in his country villa. He himself had no children and
his preference for the male line induced him to limit the safe keeping of the
legacy to the line of his only extant brother Vincenzo, to the exclusion of his
two sisters Maria Amalia married to Giovanni Baptista Grognet and Marcella
Ferdinanda married to Dr Gioacchino Bencini. The collection was only to be
preserved by the Count’s nephew Dr Giuseppe Maria Marchese and his sisters
Teresa, Serafina and Irene as well as their children. 
[p.38] But Saverio Marchese also contemplated a situation that was
likely to happen and that in fact did happen 63 years later; the extinction of
the four lines of his brother Vincenzo. In that eventuality he had determined:
‘I want to have the above mentioned paintings, drawings and prints deposited and
preserved for ever in the hall and library of the Cathedral Chapter.’  Count
Marchese’s gesture is certainly one of the earliest examples of a legacy of a
substantial art collection to a public institution. Saverio’s example, however,
was followed at the turn of this century by a few others who donated other
collections, even though less significant in number and value. Donations or
bequests to our national museums were made by Dr Edgar Parnis in 1912-1913, Mrs
Zammit Clapp in 1918, Count Messina in 1920 and Mrs Salvina Zahra
1965. Important collections were also donated by Prof. John Borg (1873-1945),
Antonio Sciortino (1879-1947), Chev. Edward Caruana Dingli (1877-1950), Olaf
Frederick Gollcher (1889-1962) and George Borg (born 1906). In 1960 notary
Francesco Catania bequeathed his complete collection to the Parish Church of St
fiftieth anniversary of the death of Count Saverio Marchese. His fine and
generous gesture deserves to be commemorated. His example too deserves to be
[p.39] APPENDIX I
Paintings acquired by purchase. Source: Count Marchese’s Register of purchases,
entitled Primo Costo.
1-2 1796. Purchased from the painter Antonie Favray at the price of 11
scudi two canvases executed by Favray himself representing (1) Greek Costumes
and (2) Turkish Costumes.
3-6 1804. From painter Giorgio Pullicino for 25 scudi: (3) Two Putti by
Cangiagio; (4) Two Putti by Baciccio; (5) Fair of Frascati, artist unknown and
(6) Conspiracy of Masaniello, artist unknown. Item no 4 later included, at an
estimate of 50 scudi, in a part exchange with a canvas depicting Wolves and
Hounds (see item 45).
7 Before 1806. From painter Giorgio Pullicino for 12 scudi and 6 tarì
(7) St Francis by Jourdaens. The picture was preserved in the Count’s country
house at Attard.
8-9 1807. From the second-hand dealer Mattio nicknamed Il Guapp for 4
scudi 6 tarì (8) Flowers and Monkey, artist unknown and (9) Hunting Scene with
Dogs, copy after Castiglione. The former was kept in the Count’s country house,
the latter not pleasing the purchaser was resold to the Russian Mr Frederick,
through the dealer Sigismondo Dimech, for 18 scudi, 9 tarì.
10 1808. The Christ Child carrying the Cross, on copper, for 3 scudi.
Artist and seller unknown.
11 1808. From Mattio for 7 scudi a Flemish Landscape by Wadder.
12-13 1808. From Mattio estimated at 46 scudi 8 tarì, Two Battle-pieces by
Antonio Tempesta. Paid for by other objects. Placed in the Attard Country house.
14 1809. From Mattio for 20 scudi Mocking of Christ attributed to
Carracci. Placed in the country house.
15-16 1811. From Mattio for 2 scudi 8 tarì two unattributed paintings. (15)
Venetian Flowers and (16) Portrait of Grand Master Perellos.
17-18 1811. From
scudi 6 tarì and (18) an unattributed Landscape for 2 scudi 6 tarì. Item 17 was
damaged in 1817 by a Venetian restorer through over cleaning.
19-22 1812. From painter Pullicino for 35 scudi (19) and (20) two unidentified
paintings by Rosa da Tivoli and (21) and (22) two smaller unidentified paintings
by Bison. Payment carried out through an exchange with a series of books by
23 1812. The Virgin with two Saints for 3 scudi. Artist and seller
unknown. Later donated to the whitewasher Ciccio, nephew of the [p.40] decorator
Mro Michele Grech, from Lija.
24-25 1813. From the painter and dealer Filippo Benucci: (24) Mitridates by
Castiglione. Benucci, who had brought the painting from
payment of 80 scudi partly in cash and partly through an exchange with two small
unidentified paintings, (25) Head of St Francis de Paule by Luca Giordano for 40
26-27 1813. From Zamboni of Rome for 75 scudi Two Landscapes, in a fine gilt
frame, by Locatelli. The canvases were later sold to Baroncino Sciberras D’Amico
for 120 scudi.
28-29 1813. From
Later exchanged with other paintings: see items 65-69.
30 1813. Acquired on the open market for 1 scudo an unattributed St
Francis de Sales.
1813. From Signor Ricci, from
Guido or Sirani.
Acquired on the open market from two dealers from
scudi 4 tarì: (32) Landscape with animals by moonlight by Micco Spadaro, for 2
scudi 6 tarì; (33) Head, a fine panel by ‘Correggio or at least Orbo di Verona
Turchetto,’ for 3 scudi 4 tarì. The panel was taken
by Benucci to
relining by the painter Candida and later resold in
behalf of Count Marchese to an Englishman, Mr Corner, for 102 scudi. (34) Holy
Family by a pupil of Canterini for 2 scudi 6 tarì. This canvas was later
included in an exchange deal with other paintings (see items 65 to 69) where it
was attributed to Pasquale Manfredi.
35-36 1814. From Felice Delicata, part of the inheritance of Signor Bruno:
(35) Portrait of Commendatore Almeyda in a Hunting Scene by Favray for 15 scudi.
Though referred to as a beautiful original by Antoine Favray, the painting has
not been accepted by modern art critics as a work by the artist. (36) Nativity
by Michele Busuttil for 15 scudi. Later removed from its frame and donated to
builder Giovanni Mamo for services rendered. Referred to as a large canvas.
37-38 1814. From a sale by Mr Henry Steward: (37) Landscape with figures, a
small fine oval on copper for 51 scudi. The landscape is said to have been
painted by Orizzonte, the figures added by Placido Costanzi. A gilt frame for
the picture purchased for 10 scudi. (38) Marine Scene by moonlight, by Volaire,
in a fine English frame, for 12 scudi.
39 1814. Study of a Structure by Petignon, also in a fine English frame,
for 10 scudi.
in the style of Perelle.
42-44 On 21 October 1815 from Benucci in exchange for a metal gilt ‘Pax’ with
a representation of the three Magi, formerly in the possession of the Count’s
uncle Agostino Marchese: (42) Hunters by Locatelli a small oval in a fine Roman
frame, for 7 scudi 6 tarì; (43) Landscape by moonlight for 5 scudi — artist
unknown, picture unframed and later exchanged (see items 65 to 69); (44) Marine
view with arches and ships, in the syle of Canaletto, for 7 scudi 6 tarì — sold
Snyders. Paid through an exchange with various objects: paintings, prints, two
Etruscan vases and a 50 volume series of books on Greek History. N.B. Inspite of
its high price, based on the assumpton that the canvas was an original, the
picture has been proved to be a copy, although an excellent copy, of an original
preserved at the Brera Gallery,
46-48 On 7 February 1816 from Don Martino Zerafa, parish priest of Attard, for
30 scudi: (46) King David, after Guercino; (47) Daughter of Herodias holding
Baptist’s Head, soon relined and discovered to be a copy and (48) St Cecilia,
also discovered to be a copy.
Seller not indicated and canvas in a bad state of repair.
scudi 6 tarì three large Landscapes by Ignazio Bavarese. Payment partly in cash
and partly through an exchange with a silver watch estimated at 75 scudi.
by Paolo Porpora, pupil of Agnello Ascione, for 25 scudi.
scudi 10.30: (57) Ruins, a large canvas by Pannini; (58) Horses, a small canvas
by Mastro Stendardo, later exchanged (see items 65 to 69); (59) Animals and
Fruit, unattributed, for 7 maltese scudi 7 tarì 10 grani and (60) Fish, also
unattributed, for 7 scudi 7 tarì 10 grani.
for partly in cash and partly through an exchange with three prints. Though
unattributed, the picture is described as a very fine canvas in a gilt frame and
once forming part of the picture-gallery of the Prince Santa Groce
other animals by Antonio Tempesta.
canvases by Locatelli or Van Falens.
65-69 On 20 March 1817 from the gilder Mastro Agostino an acquisition of 5
paintings estimated at 60 scudi 6 tarì and paid for through an exchange with
other paintings including items 28, 29, 34, 43, 58 above: (65) Bacchanal by Mola
and its companion picture (66) Death of Procris by the same artist, both
estimated at 30 scudi; (67) Finding of Moses in a landscape — landscape painted
by Agostino Tassi, figures painted by Filippo Lauri, canvas estimated at 20
scudi; (68) Head of
Sampson in the
70-71 On 26 March 1817 bought on the open market for 3 tarì two identical
copies of the Head of the Virgin after Sassoferrato.
Cecilia for 2 scudi 6 tarì.
fine and costly picture by the Dutch artist Nicasio Bernaert, pupil of Snyders,
representing Fish, Oysters and Crabs against a market background. First brought
Marchese for 150 scudi. Payment through an exchange with 2 volumes of prints, a
soup-toureen and similar objects.
74 On 21 March 1818 from the German painter Schranz an oil painting
representing a Grand Harbour View with the vessel
seller, signed and dated by the artist and costing 60 scudi.
the other side of The Grand Harbour, also for 60 scudi.
painter’s brother Antonaci, it was acquired by Marchese, together with other
paintings and prints, for 4 scudi. Restored by Schranz (the elder son of the
painter) who also added the figures.
paintings on copper by a Flemish artist, (77)
Baptist. Both restored by Schranz.
The Shepherds awaken by the Angel (Surgite Pastures) for 15 scudi 4 tarì.
Previously owned by Count Preziosi.
dealer Cabarretta a superb panel by Tintoretto, a bozzetto said to be for an
referred to is probably The Scourging of Christ by
for 10 scudi 8 tarì Expulsion from
restored by Schranz for 36 scudi 9 tarì.
Coriolano. On copper. The picture is painted on the back of a copper-plate
engraved by the same artist. The engraving is described by Bartsch.
and 1 tarì an Allegory by Benedetto Castiglione. The price includes the
oblong pictures of still life showing Fruit.
Paintings, owned by Marchese, coming from the Camilleri and Preziosi
families. Source: Count Marchese’s last will.
2 Judith and Holofernes, another copy by Stefano Erardi.
3 Ecce Homo with two angels by Giuseppe Arena called Il Romano.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, a nice small canvas bought from
5 Immaculate Conception by Manno, the Palermitan painter.
6 St Andrew venerating the Cross, a fine copy of an original by Guido
Reni in San Gregorio,
7 An unidentified large painting, a fine copy after Raphael, donated to
Count Marchese by Signora Eustachia.
8-9 Two horizontal pictures presenting Dead Game, donated by Canon Vittorio
10-13 Four companion pictures depicting Animals, by Melchior Roos,
kept in the Count’s country house, acquired from the sale of Filippo Camilleri.
15 Our Lady of Succour and St Nicholas of Tolentino, a large canvas of
poor quality, probably removed from a Church.
16 Bethrotal of the Virgin, another large canvas of a very poor
17-25 Nine family Portraits, depicting members of the Bianchi, Gristi and
Portrait of Monsignor Durini, formerly Inquisitor in
 G.F. Abela: Essays in his honour by Members of the Malta Historical
Society on the Third Centenary of his death (1655-1955),
especially article by R. Bonnici Calì (pp.70-81), The
Cornerstone of the
 Two manuscripts in the National Library of Malta provide a lot of
information on the Marchese family: Ms 658, part 6 entitled Vita di Giuseppe
Isidoro Marchese scritta dal Dottor Vincenzo di lui figlio, 1791 and Ms 724
entitled Carte attinenti alla Famiglia Marchese. Amministrazione dell’Eredità
 The marriage
contract was stipulated on
Notary Michelangelo Portelli.
 Archives of
the Order of
134v. and 135r.
Government Gazette, n.1163,
Constitution of the Order of
(the third grade in the Order) were referred to as Companions if they were
belonged to this grade. (Information kindly supplied by Major Claude Gaffiero).
 A description of the house with all its furnishings, drafted on 24 November
1833 by Maresciallo Pietro Spiteri, is preserved in the Archives of the Law
Courts, Mandati di Elevazione, Pentecoste e
 The country house at Attard was designed by Giuseppe Isidoro and
scudi. A canvas at the
the country house.
 Acta Aeademiae Melitensis, Vol. III, 1-2 as quoted by A. Vella, The
 Some of his sonnets are preserved in the Preziosi family. Among these is
one composed on 5 march 1776 in honour of Grandmaster De Rohan on the occasion
of his election and another one, commissioned by the Cathedral Chapter composed
in honour of the Marquis of Hastings on the occasion of the latter’s visit to St
John’s Co-Cathedral on the feast of
Library consists of a literary essay describing the Count’s voyage to Monte
Libano in 1776.
 Count Marchese transcribed and annotated a long text by a Capuchin Friar (?
Padre Pelagio Mifsud) on Maltese painters and sculptors. The Ms is preserved in
the National Library as Ms 1123. A few pages on Maltese art history, drafted on
the occasion of a visit to various parishes in
preserved in a miscellany which also contains the Count’s register of purchases.
 Marchese was fond of copying archaeological finds of foreign or local
interest. Drawing No. 528 in the
inscription discovered at Tal-Virtù in 1816. The drawing is reproduced in The
Earliest Description of Malta (Lyons 1536) by Jean Quintin d’Autun. Translation
and Notes by
 During the French occupation, Saverio remained in
in preparing a sort of Maltese dictionary. His unfinished notes are preserved as
Ms 662 of the National Library, entitled Principio di Vocabolario
Italiano-Maltese per necessario supplemento al Vocabolario Maltese-Italiano del
Ch. Michele Antonio Vassallo sive Vassalli, Maltese, stampato a Roma nel 1796
incominciato nel Blocco della Valletta
per aiuto di chi vuol dal Italiano conoscer le parole Maltesi e da lui non
finito. Incidentally Count Marchese was one of the Maltese who on
signed a petition to the Order in favour of capitulation to the French troops.
Floriana Ospizio; Cfr. C. Testa,
Miż-żewġ Naħat tas-Swar, vol. 1,
pp. 50 and 137.
 The name of Cavaliere Francesco Seratti is unfortunately omitted in the
standard biographical dictionaries. Nor is his collector’s mark included in the
standard work by Fritz Lugt, Les Marques de Collections, La Haye 1956.
 Information on this episode of Seratti’s life may be gleaned from Duchesne
Ainé, Essai sur Les Nielles, gravure des orfévres
florentine du XV siècle,
1826 p. 32: ‘Cet amateur distingué, voulant suivre le
lorsque ce monarque fut obligé de changer sa résidence, emporta aver lui tout sa
fortune. Sa mauvaise santé ne lui ayant pas permis de rester long-temps en
Sicile, il obtint la permission de retourner a Livourne; mais un évènement
malheureux le priva de revoir sa patrie. Lors de son retour, il fut pris et mené
à Alger, on il mourut en 1811. La prise fut vendue en partie dans ce pays; mais
la collection d’estampes fut apporté a
capitaine anglais, qui la transporta à Londres; les estampes suivirent alors la
chance ordinaire du commerce.’ Count Saverio Marchese completes the episode
furnishing some missing links; ‘la collezione preziosissima di stampe di Sua
Eccellenza il Signor Francesco Seratti Toscano Cavaliere e gran Priore di Santo
Stefano e Governatore già di
mentre da Sicilia passava in Toscana nel ritorno ivi dal suo Sovrano venduta ivi
ed acquistata da un Turco e mandata in
essi venduta All’Abate Bellanti Bibliotecario e da questi rivenduta al Signor
Roberto Steward Negoziante Inglese.’ Register of Purchases, p. 49.
 Seratti’s collection is described by Saverio Marchese as follows:
“collezione, che non travavasi più scelta se non più completa in Italia, di
stampe antiche e moderne, ed in ambedue le forme le più ricercate.”
 A gravestone of an unnamed member of the house of Fano has been traced in
the Jewish Cemetery at Kalkara. Mr. Derek Davis of
information, suggests that the slab belongs to the cemetery’s final period
 Canon Giuseppe Giovanni Bellanti (1787-1861) was Librarian of the National
Library and Dean of the Cathedral Chapter. Like Marchese he was a member of the
University Council and he also cultivated the Maltese language. On 5 october
1817 Marchese bought from Filippo Benucci for 60 scudi two volumes with 82
engravings of Gothic Cathedrals and Abbeys but these volumes, originally forming
part of the Seratti collection, had been acquired from Canon Bellanti. In the
same year Marchese provided Bellanti with a big frame receiving in return 12
 The firm Struthers Steward was still active in
Steward became a founder member of the Malta Chamber of Commerce. Besides John
Robert, Marchese recalls a Henry Steward who in 1815 provided a volume with 100
drawings for 71 scudi, a canvas with a marine view by Volaise for 12 scudi and
an oval on copper with a landscape by Van Bloemen for 61 scudi. Op. cit. f. 48
 “Signor Gio Roberto Steward Negoziante Inglese mio amicissimo ed il piu
intendente da me conosciuto nel riconoscere stampe e disegni originali.” Op.
cit. f. 50v.
 “Parte a me cedute amichevolmente a prezzi discreti e parte comprate dal
incanto pubblico fatto di alcune di detta raccolta nella di lui casa in Strada
San Paolo, sopra la statua di Sani Giovanni Battista, li 2 e 3 Marzo 1815.” (Op.
cit., f. 50v.)
The auction was advertised in the Malta Government Gazette on
(n.69, p.278) as follows: “Da vendersi li 2 e 3 marzo 1815 al numero 69 Strada
San Paolo alle ore 2. Una: scelta collezione di stampe antiche e moderne ecc.
ecc. proprietà d’un Signore che lascia l’Isola, fra le quali si trova la ‘Morte
Masson, e molte altre come verrà specificato nel Cataliogo che si potrà avere
nel luogo della vendita; tutto da vedersi il giorno prima e le mattina della
stessa al sopradetto luogo” (reference kindly supplied by architect Michael,
Ellul). Count Marchese registers the acquisition of lots 34, 49, 50, 88, 91 and
104 of this auction (op. cit., 51v.)
 Among the prints conveyed to
the Coronation of the Virgin and attributed to Maso Fininguerra. In 1814 Mr
Steward sold the sulphur to Colinaghi for £150; the latter resold it to the Duke
of Buckingham for £250. In 1818 the sulphur was acquired from Mr Grenville for
£270 by the
Chiefly Italian of the XV century, Sulphur Casts and Prints preserved in the
collection are recorded to have taken place by Mr Stanley of
(1600-1825), La Haye 1938: sale no. 9009 held between 12 and 19 november 1816
and sale no. 9182 held in July 1817. The first sale comprised 693 rare prints;
the second one comprised six paintings, 226 drawings, various prints and 52
annotated with prices and names of purchasers. Information kindly supplied by Mr
John Spike of
 Painters: Alingham, Busuttil Michele, Busuttil Marcantucciolo, Busuttil
Salvatore, Benucci Filippo, Falzon Giuseppe (from Floriana), Farrugia Giovanni
Francesco, Grech Antonaci Pullicino Giorgio, Schranz - the father and his eldest
Craftsmen: Cannataci, Ittard Salvatore, Létard, ‘Mondo,’ Pivini, Serafini.
Second hand dealers: Cabarretta Antonio, Celestre; Mattio il Guap, Mustaccia,
Michele di Dobson, Nato, an unnamed dealer holding a shop in front of Barone
Inheritances: 1806 Ball
1821 Antonaci Grech, 1822 and 1831 Marchesa Anna Barbaro, 1824 Marchese Carlo
Occasional sellers (incomplete list): Abate Emanuele del Pilar, Canon Bellanti,
Notary Benedetto Falzon, Canon Gelsomino of Birkirkara, Notary Gobbo, Giuseppe
Giaccheri, Madame Jeanne, Sac. Francesco Pullicino, Mr. Raffer — officer of
Regiment 90, Don Martino Zerafa, Parish Priest of Attard.
Sgombati, Bracacci, Ricci, Zamboni.
 Information on Filippo Benucci, unlike Seratti, is included in various
biographical dictionaries, among which Nagler and Thieme-Becker. His monogramme
(F joined to a B) is also included in George Caspar Nagler, Die
of George Wallis and a landscape and marine painter. Born in
inscription on the back of a watercolour by the artist, depicting Count Saverio
and annotated by the Count himself. Benucci was an artist as well as a dealer.
Over a span of 21 years (1812 to 1833) Marchese records no less than 26
purchases from Benucci covering mainly prints (including 14 by Albrecht Dürer)
but also including paintings, coins and medals, jewells, terracotta figures and
art books. Benucci was also a lithographer. His lithographs include a group of
six views of
published in 1825. He also executed a series of 12
interesting and picturesque views in the islands of
nature by Ph. Benucci and Ant. Schranz and executed on stone by Ph. Benucci,
Chapel at Wied il-Għasel, Mushroom Rock at Gozo, Marsamuscetto’s Harbour, Casal
Birchircara and Emtahlep (the latter designed by J. Schranz). Count Marchese was
certainly involved in the connection between Benucci and Schranz: about november
1826 he sent to Benucci in
scudi. Besides this group of twelve views, Benucci designed other views of
Benucci and engraved in
dedication to Major General J.T. Layar and a text in English and Italian
(illustration, without text, in Heritage, no. 16, p. 19). A companion engraving
depicts the Santa Liberata Capuchin Friary at Kalkara.
 The close friendship of Favray with the Marchese family is described in the
manuscript biography of Giuseppe Isidoro Marchese (National Library, Ms. 658,
ff. 17r and 18v). The passage has been transcribed as document no 3 in Antoine
de Favray: An exhibition of paintings and drawings,
Giuseppe Isidoro was one of Favray’s patrons and friends in
He also received a copy of Favray’s last will prior to the latter’s departure to
Costantinople. Favray painted several members of the Marchese family: Giuseppe
Isidoro (1784), Serafina (two portraits), Agostino (two portraits), Saverio,
Anna Maria née Camilleri Bianchi and Maria Amalia née Grognet. More details in
John Gash, Antoine De Favray’s first Maltese period (1744, 1761) and its Roman
prelude (1738-1744) in op. cit., pp. 24-36 and J. Azzopardi, Paintings and
drawings by Favray in the Cathedral Museum Collections in The Times, 4 June
 Pompeo Batoni executed portraits of two members of the Marchese family. In
1740 he designed a small oval of Giuseppe Isidoro done entirely in pencil except
for the face which is touched with red crayon. In 1766 he painted a rectangular
portrait of Don Gio. Batta Raimondo, in tempera on paper pasted on canvas. Cfr
Edward Sammut, A Link with the Stuarts, in the margin of XVIII century art
history in Times of Malta,
 Favray’s portrait of Saverio is preserved in the Bencini family. Benucci’s
watercolour, referred to above, is kept in the Preziosi family. A modern relief
of the Count, executed in fibreglass by sculptor Tony Pace, is extant at the
 Annotations of local interest are found on the back of drawings nos 386,
414 and 425 of the Cathedral Museum collections. Drawing no 386 is a landscape
executed in pen and wash by the French knight Jean Marie Bosredon Vatange (who
designed Dolomieu’s book of Italian travels). First-hand information on the
assassination of Vatange by the Maltese insurgents is recorded with minute
detail on the back of the drawing. Nos 414 and 425 are two companion drawings by
Ciccio da Capua. A note on the back informs us that these two drawings as well
as several prints were forgotten by Luciano Bonaparte when he was detained in
Malta in 1810 and the folder was purchased by Marchese from Stamparo Facchini on
28 January 1815. (On Luciano Bonaparte’s Maltese imprisonment see O.F.
Tencajoli, Luciano Bonaparte a Malta (1810) in Mediterraneo, Ottobre 1934 —
photocopy, donated by Major Claude Gaffiero, available at the Cathedral Museum).
Count Marchese also tried his hand at drawing: many of these abound in private
collections as well as at the Cathedral Museum. They reflect his erudition and
wide cultural interests and include designs of archeological finds, drawings
after the great masters, a collection of colour drawings of birds, tromp d’oeil
and caricatures. A caricature of Favray drawn on the occasion of a meal in the
Count’s country-house is preserved in a private collection. A tromp d’oeil
designed by the Count is 1789 was engraved by Perelle and published in Paris by
 Saverio’s brothers and sisters were: Maria Amalia, born 25 May 1747,
married to the noble Gio. Batta Grognet de Vassé 28 April 1771, died 4 November
1830; Ferdinanda Marcella, born 14 April 1753, married to Dr Gioacchino Bencini
7 November 1780; Pietro Paolo, born 26 March 1755, died in infancy 24 January
1756 and Vincenzo Maria, born 9 April 1763, married to Elena Ellul Preziosi 11
May 1816, died 10 August 1831. Count Saverio survived his brother Vincenzo by
about two years: the latter passed away just three months after Saverio enacted
his last will. The Count left his collections to be safeguarded ‘in titolo di
prelegato’ by Vincenzo’s four children. Their names and dates are here listed by
seniority: Dottor Giuseppe Carmelo, a batchelor, born 12 may 1803, died 17 June
1872; Teresa, born 5 February 1806, married to Fortunato Caruana, died 11 April
1896; Serafina, born 8 January 1809, married to Paolo Mallia, died 19 June 1880
and Irene, a spinster who died on 7 July 1879. Following the Count’s death in
1833, the legacy was first preserved by Dottor Giuseppe Carmelo: his immediate
concern for the fate of the legacy provoked a prelminary joint inventory on the
collection of prints by two artists, Petro Paolo Caruana and Giuseppe Hyzler.
Giuseppe retained the collection for about 40 years, and was followed by his
sister Teresa for another 24 years till 1896. Teresa lived long enough to
survive not only her other two sisters Serafina and Irene but also her only
offspring, Vincenza, who had passed away a long time before, in 1847.
 Teresa’s executors were her brother-in-law Paolo Mallia and Canon Giovanni
Ebejer. On 4 May 1896 they asked the Cathedral Chapter to deputise two members
to receive the Marchese legacy. The collections, received by the Chapter’s
deputies, Canon Vincenzo Vassallo and Canon Antonio Cordina, formed the first
nucleus of a Cathedral Museum. Canon Vassallo soon attempted to compile an
inventory of the prints’ collection as contained in each volume. Active
consideration to open the Museum to the public was on the Chapter’s agenda in
1917 (cfr the newspaper Malta, 5 June 1918, referred to me by A. Espinosa
Rodriguez). For further details on the Marchese legacy see J. Azzopardi, A
Legacy to the Cathedral Church in The Times, 11 June 1982.
1.1. Giuseppe Marchese, married (1) 1657 Ghaxaq to Domenica Spagnol, married (2) 1667 Rabat Gozo to Cleria Metallo, with issue.
1.1.1. (First Marriage) Maria Marchese, married 1686 Ghaxaq to Antonio Spagnol, with issue.
126.96.36.199. Rosa Spagnol, married 1714 Senglea to Grazio Grech.
1.1.2. (Second Marriage) Vincenzo Marchesi, married 1696 Attard to Grazia
Bartolo (d/o Gio Dom and Anna Maria), with issue
188.8.131.52. Cav. Giuseppe Isidoro Marchesi of Rome, Italy, (1702-91), married 1746 Rome Italy to Serafina Marmieri, with issue
184.108.40.206.1. Francesco Saverio Marchesi, C.M.G, (1757-1833), Created 1793 COUNT OF MEIMUN. Married 1784 Senglea to Anna Maria Camilleri, dsp.
220.127.116.11.2. Vincenzo Marchesi, (1763-1831), married Elena Ellul-Preziosi, with issue. (See Preziosi for issue)
18.104.22.168.3. Maria Amelia Marchesi, (1772-1830), married Gio.Batta Grognet de Vasse (s/o Giorgio and Rosalea Rosso), with issue
22.214.171.124.3.1. Giorgio Grognet de Vasse, (1774-1862), married (1) 1820 to Concetta Borg., married (2) 1834 Valletta to Ursula della Grazia-Ubaldini, (See Fenech-Bonici in Extinct Titles), with issue.
126.96.36.199.3.2. Rosa Grognet de Vasse, married 1806 to Felice Grech-Delicata, with issue.
188.8.131.52.1.3.3. Vincenza Grognet de Vasse, married 1804 to Dr. Gio Andrea Petit-Caxaro, LL., with issue
184.108.40.206.3.3.1. Adelaide Petit-Caxaro, (died 1877), married 1822 Valletta to Not. Benedetto Pellegrini-Vidal, with issue.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Pietro Paolo Pellegrini-Petit, married Erminea Cali, with issue
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Not. Odoardo Pellegrini-Petit, married Giuseppina Vella, with issue
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1. Beatrice Pellegrini-Petit, married 1909 to Prof. John Borg, MA.,MD., with issue
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.2. Gemma Pellegrini-Petit, married 1912 to Robert Bencini, (See Below).
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Carolina Pellegrini-Petit, married Pasquale Gentile, with issue
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Augusta Pellegrini-Petit, married (1) 1864 to Gio Pulis, (died 1865), Married (2) 1868 to Cav. Etelvaldo Ferro, with issue
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1. (Second Marriage) Charles Henry Ferro, (1877-1931),
Consul for Romania.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Carmela Pellegrini-Petit, married Dr. Francesco Saverio Borg-Olivier, LL.D. (See Borg in Maltese Families), with issue
188.8.131.52.3.3.2. Maria Teresa Petit Caxaro, married Dr Bartolomeo Stagno Navarra. (See Counts of Bahria for descendants)
184.108.40.206.4. Marcella Marchesi, married 1780 Valletta to Dr Gioacchino Bencini, LL.D.
1.1.3. Gio Batta Marchese, married 1717 Matrice Gozo to Teresa Mizzi, with issue.
220.127.116.11. Giuseppe Marchese, married (1) 1744 Matrice Gozo to Framinea Gatt, married (2) 1747 Matrice Gozo to Anna Maria Testaferrata.
1.1.4. Antonio Marchese, married 1697 Cospicua to Bartolomea Zahra.
1.2. Raimondo Marchese, married 1653 Cospicua to Marianna Barbara.