Vincent Apap

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Vincent Apap led Maltese sculpture in entirely new directions with his monumental works.

Vincent Apap was born in Valletta on the 13th of November 1909. After attending the Government Central School, he enrolled in evening classes for modeling and drawing, studying under Giuseppe Duca and Robert Caruana Dingli.

In 1925 he was one of the first students to attend the newly-established School of Art where lessons in sculpture were delivered by Antonio Micallef. Two years later he won a scholarship to the British Academy in Rome, which was under the direction of Antonio Sciortino. He returned to Malta in 1930 and the following year won the commission for the Fra Diego monument in Ħamrun.

In April 1934 Apap was appointed assistant modeling teacher at the School of Art and in 1947 he became head of the school. He retired in 1971 but was recalled in 1978.

Apap managed to obtain the patronage of British colonial and armed services officials. Lt Governor Sir Henry Luke commissioned a bust of his son, Michael, in 1930. Luke introduced him to Lord Louis Mountbatten, who took an immediate liking to Apap works, becoming one of his principal patrons. Several Apap pieces are still to be found in the private collections of the Mountbatten family. These works include a mezzo bust of Lord Montbatten (1935) now at the Admiralty in London; a bust of Countess Edwina Mountbatten (1936); a bust of Princess Elizabeth (1951); a bust of Duke of Edinburgh (1954), a bust of Marquis of Milford Haven at The Admiralty, London (1954) the Lord Beaverbrook Monument at Frederiction, Canada (1957); a bust of Prince of Wales aged ten exhibited at Buckingham Palace (1961); 2nd portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh for the Royal Yacht Club (1970), a portrait of Prince of Wales for Buckingham Palace, (1974), and a monument to Lord Louis Mountbatten unveiled by Prince Charles at the Isle of Wight (1982). His bust of Sir Winston Churchill (1953) can be viewed at the Upper Barrakka.

His list of public monuments in Malta is outstanding: the Triton Fountain at City Gate, Valletta (1959); the bust of Dr.Enrico Mizzi at St John’s Square, Valletta (1964), Dante Alighieri at Floriana (1965), Mgr.Gonzi at Mdina Cathedral (1971), Sir Paul Boffa at Castile Place in Valletta (1976), and Dr. Giorgio Borg Olivier at Castile Place, Valletta (1990). Other public momuments and statues included a bust of Giuseppe Calì at the Society of Arts Valletta (1955), a bust of Joseph Calleja (1959), the statue of St. Joseph at Tarġa Gap (1965), a titular statue of St Mary at Mosta Church (1947), Mater Admirabilis at Tal-Virtu (1954), and the titular statue of St Augustine in Valletta (1973). He also made a statue of Bishop Pace for St George’s Basilica in Gozo.

Two important exhibitions of his work were organized in London. Each of this shows was shared with his brother Willie Apap, the painter. The first one was at the Commonwealth Institute in November 1960 and the other in January 1962 at the Grabowsky Gallery.

The last exhibition of his works during his lifetime was organized by the Bank of Valletta at its corporate gallery in Sliema.

Apap was awared the OBE (1956), and the Gold Medal by the Commerce (1965). He was nominated Knight of the Order of St John (1963), Cavaliere Ufficiale Repubblica Italiana (1968), and member of the Order of Merit (Malta) in 1993.

Ċensu Apap, as he was known to his friends, married Maria Bencini in 1941 and they had a son John and two daughters Nella and Manon.

He died on the 15 February 2003 at the age of 93