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The Siege of Malta: Capture of St Elmo, 23 June 1565

Fine art

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Object ID BHC0254
Description This is the third of eight pictures commemorating the Siege of Malta in 1565. It portrays the capture of Fort St Elmo on 23 June. Fort St Elmo was captured after a siege lasting 29 days. Inside the fort, the Turks found 27 cannons which are portrayed here adorned with the Turkish flag and pointing at the Christian Fort St Angelo. The painting takes the viewer's eye over the battle to the fort and sea beyond, with a view from Mount Sceberras overlooking the Christian forts of St Elmo on the left and Birgu in the background to the right. The Turks pour through the breached walls of the castle where two parties of Knights make their last stand. The battery consists of two tiers of cannon, pointing to the left, and in the middle of the picture, on the battery, a distinguished Turk dies having been hit by a cannon ball from Fort St Angelo. Beyond, two cannons fire at Birgu. The whole area is crowded with troops moving in tight formation. In the left foreground is a group of archers, and in the middle foreground, janissaries. Mustapha Pasha, and other Turkish leaders, Piali Pasha and Ochiali Calabrese, are positioned in the extreme foreground. The picture depicts the variety of head-dress worn by the Turkish troops. At the mouth of the harbour and to the west of St Elmo are five Turkish galleys, and rowing towards St Angelo and Birgu are three barges of the Knights, returning after their efforts to relieve St Elmo. When St Elmo fell, all inside perished, except for nine wounded Knights. See also BHC0252-BHC0259.
Date made Late 16th century

Artist/Maker Perez, Matteo
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 1540 mm x 2239 mm x 66 mm x 33.2 kg;Painting: 1372 x 2057 mm
  • The Siege of Malta: Capture of St Elmo, 23 June 1565 (BHC0254)
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