Giuseppe (Joseph) Chiesa – Port Mahon

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Black ink and wash on buff laid paper. Signed and inscribed in iron gall ink: Joseph Chiesa Fecit Mahon 1775 (lower right). Title (translated) reads: – Perspective of Fort Saint Philippe, at the Entrance of Port Mahon in the Island of Minorca; taken from the side of Cape Mola, facing Fort Filippet in the year 1774. Throughout the design key letters have been placed at various points of interest, from A-Z. A description of each location has been written underneath the title, such as – A: Le Donjon, oui, Fort Philippe. (The Dungeon of Fort Saint Philippe). B: Redoute de La Reijne. (Queens Redoubt), and so on. Mounted onto 100% cotton museum board.
Note: This drawing serves as an important document for the history of Minorca.


The Italian painter, Giuseppe Chiesa, arrived in Minorca with his father and sister in 1728 from Livorno in Italy. They settled in Port Mahon. Chiesa painted panoramic views of Minorca, such as the present watercolour, and also portraits. Little is known of Chiesa’s life and patrons but interestingly the present work is signed with the British ‘Joseph’ rather than Guiseppe, presumably because Minorca was under British control at the time. Minorca had been captured by the British from the Spanish in the early years of the eighteenth century and remained so until June 1756 when it came under French control in the early months of the seven years’ war. However, it was returned to the British in 1763 under the terms of the treaty of Versailles.

Condition: Treated by an accredited paper conservator, the drawing has greatly improved with reduction of planar distortions, discolouration, staining and foxing. The stability has also improved although some damages are still clearly visible. Paper consists of 2 sheets joined vertically down the centre, lined with Japanese mulberry paper. The condition is not perfect but if cared for will last a lifetime.


Additional information


14 3/4 in x 41 1/2 in. (37.6 cm x 105.5 cm.)


13 1/8 in x 39 in. (33.2 cm x 99 cm.)

Frame or Mount

Mount: 19 5/8 in x 45 in. (49.9 cm x 114.2 cm.)


Chiesa, Giuseppe (Joseph) (Italian, 1728–1789)

Giuseppe Chiesa was an Italian painter who was born in Livorno in 1720 and died in 1789 in Mahón, he lived most of his life in Minorca. He was the son of Giuseppe Chiesa and Felicia Baratti, a family of painters. Giuseppe Chiesa arrived in Minorca with his father and sister in 1728 from Livorno in Italy. He married Joana-aina Bagur Manent, a native of Port Mahon, the daughter of Rafael I Margalida. They had six children before she died in November 1788. Giuseppe Chiesa founded a drawing and painting academy in Mahón where his two sons, Josep and Joan were taught, also the artist Pasqual Calbó I Caldés attended classes and became very important in the history of Minorcan art. His life ended on November 20, 1789 due to his poor health. His financial status was not much better, this could be due to Spanish policy against foreigners, since, apart from having Italian roots, one of Chiesa's daughters married Nicolà Alexiano, a captain of the port of Mahón, of the Greek family of the Alexians. It can be said that the recognition that Giuseppe Chiesa deserves is not only for the legacy of his extensive work but also for being the one who opened the horizons of a new cultural and artistic field to Minorca, since, until the arrival of Chiesa at the island, the art of painting was practically unknown by its inhabitants (except for some pictures of religious subject). Portraits by Chiesa of Lady Johntson, Lord George Lennox and Lady Lennox are in the National Army Museum in London.