The proscenium was decorated in 1910 with the reminiscent oil on stone painting entitled The Virtues of Mankind by acclaimed Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì. The painting is surrounded by rich bas-relief, pre-art deco stucco decorations full of symbolism.

The painted lunette represents the Virtues of Mankind, represented within a semicircular composition with the central allegorical figure of Religion stretching out her arms in a gesture combining blessing and protection. On the left side the figure of Truth is found seated summarising the tension resulting from the threat of doubt and error. On the right side of Religion kneels the figure of Justice, holding the symbols of the lily and scales. On the extreme left, loving kindness is represented by means of a young semi-clothed boy offering assistance to a frail man in an illustrative of the dawn and dusk of life for which humanity cultivates the faithfulness of affection.

The far left of the mural is characterised by two different generations; the maternal instinct of protection for a child who recoils from the viper emerging from the open book at his feet.

The stucco decorations were most probably designed by Calì and done by his enduring collaborator Vincenzo Cardona. The stucco decorations, in the best tradition of stenographical expression include a soaring eagle drawing the curtain away with its talons to reveal the painted lunette; while on the other side, a set of musical emblems together with a theatrical mask are represented. Moreover the plan on the top centre of the proscenium corresponds to the sublime aspirations of martyrdom in Christian faith, which are in turn equivalent to the lofty ideals for which the Juventutis Domus (original name of the theatre) was founded.

Information compiled by PrevArti Ltd – Art Conservation & Restoration

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