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Charlene Vella

Thesis : “In the footsteps of Antonello da Messina: the De Saliba workshop: Sicily, Venice and Malta in the Early Renaissance”

Supervisor : Dr Donal Cooper

I have studied at the University of Malta, holding an M.A. with Distinction, currently reading for a PhD at the University of Warwick, which I begun in 2011, having been awarded a Warwick Postgraduate Research Scholarship.

Research Summary -
In my PhD research I am looking into an aspect of Sicilian Early Renaissance painting, namely the artists who were the followers of Antonello da Messina. These followers were his close family members who took up painting and who became very prolific after Antonello’s death. These are Pietro de Saliba, Antonio de Saliba, Jacobello d’Antonio and Salvo d’Antonio, some of whom seem to have later had their own bottega. Some of these artists have also studied and worked in Venice, and received commissions from the lagoon city, from neighbouring towns, as well as from Sicily, Calabria, and Malta. The evolution of their work from the immediate influence of Antonello da Messina, to their coming to terms with Venetian Early Renaissance art, and how this was exported back to their native town, Messina, is being anaylsed, as well as there dependency on existing drawings versus their own personal inventiveness.


  • ‘The St Thomas alto rilievo at the Parish Church of St Publius, Floriana’, co-authored with Lisa Attard, in the Architect, Kamra tal-Periti, No. 39 (Malta, December 2006).
  • ‘The Sanctuary of the Virgin at Mellieħa and the Knights of St John’, in Treasures of Malta, Vol. XIII, No. 2 (Malta, 2007).
  • ‘Exhibition of Pauline Theology: Paintings by John Martin Borg’, in Reflections on Pauline Theology Exhibition Catalogue (Malta, 2008), pp. 3-12.
  • ‘New Light on Petronilla, the oldest bell in Malta’, in Melita Historica, Vol. XV, No. 1 (Malta, 2008), pp. 49-54.
  • Mario Buhagiar’s ‘Essays on the Knights and Art and Architecture in Malta 1500 – 1798’, Midsea Books (Malta, 2009), book review in Melita Historica, Vol. XV, No. 2 (Malta, 2009), pp. 221-3.
  • ‘Antonio Buhagiar (1906-1998): The Man and the Artist', in Treasures of Malta, Vol. XVI, No. 3 (Malta, 2010), pp. 30-3.
  • ‘Edward Caruana Dingli (1876-1950) - Portraits Views and Folkloristic Scenes' (Malta, 2010), book review, in Treasures of Malta, Vol. XVI, No. 3 (Malta, 2010), pp. 42-5.
  • ‘Sculpture in Malta in the Early Post-Muslim Period', in J. Grima (ed.), 60th Anniversary of the Malta Historical Society: A Commemoration (Malta Historical Society, 2010), pp. 455-66.
  • ‘Austin Camilleri’s Via Crucis in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at San Pawl tat-Tarġa: A critical appreciation’, in M. Agius (ed.), Via Crucis (Malta, 2011)
  • ‘A Late Medieval and an Early Modern Window in the Reserve Collection of the National Museum of Archaeology', in C. Vella (ed.), Proceedings of History Week 2009 (Malta, Midsea Books, 2012)