The majority of surviving works by Baroque painter Mattia Preti are located in churches across Italy. Receiving considerable acclaim during his lifetime, the artist was awarded many important commissions for religious work, creating an estimated 700 paintings throughout his career.
Around 1630, Preti traveled to Rome to join his brother Gregori Preti, already a painter of minor acclaim in the region. It was in Rome that Mattia Preti received most of his art education, from studying the works of Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, and by taking formal lessons from his older brother. It was Caravaggio’s dramatic paintings that had the most distinct effect on Preti’s style. He moved to Malta in 1661, where he would stay until his death.
Preti’s work would often focus on the pain and suffering of the poor, sick, or marginalized. Even in religious compositions, Preti depicted the intense, sometimes violent, aspects of the narrative (Feast of Absalom). Preti was admitted to the Order of the Knights of Saint John of Malta in 1661, rising through the ranks to receive their highest honor – being named Knight of Justice. Preti painted from a young age until a few weeks before his death in 1699.