(Rivista Internazionale - December 1995: The painter knights - 2/3)
This painting has aroused much discussion because of the armour the Grand Master is wearing, mainly because there is another portrait of de Wignacourt in the National Museum in Malta, variously attributed to Cassarino, Lionello Spada and even the same Caravaggio. In this second portrait the Grand Master is also wearing his armour, recognisable by the fleur-de-lis of his coat-of-arms, duplicated on the centre of the shield leaning beside him. This 16th-century armour considered the
work of the armourer Gerolamo Spacini, is still conserved in the Malta Armoury, as is the cuirass - said to be of the «Pisan style», perhaps in reference to the Milanese workshop of Pompeo della Chiesa (circa 1570-1575) - in the Louvre picture, which does not however bear any heraldic element referable to the Grand Master. Maurizio Calvese has seen a symbolic significance in this armour painted by Caravaggio, speculating that it could have been worn by the Grand Master in the battle of Lepanto, in which de Wignacourt participated with honour.
It almost seems that Caravaggio's
main artistic work in Malta was to portray de
A year later on 14 July 1608,
Caravaggio was received into the Order probably on the initiative of the Grand Master not as Knight of Grace, as commonly believed, but as Knight of Obedience.The document, preserved in the Order's archive in Malta, attests that
«Michaeli Angelo de Caravaggio» was received «in gradum fratrum militum obedientiae».