Samuel Bugeja 1920-2004

The Silent Artist

The Maltese Restorer, Sculptor and Painter - By Chev. Vincenzo Maria Pellegrini

A Biography Liberally Translated By Joe Bugeja, Samuel Bugeja´s Elder Son, From The Original Italian Text Of Chev. Vincenzo Pellegrini.

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Samuel Bugeja Samuel Bugeja&Salome

Busy, calm and meticulous, Samuel Bugeja is one of those artists that achieved a career based solely on laborious studies within the four walls of his art studio. His creations are the result of inspirations from the robust eternal patrimony that the leading artists of all times have collected in order to bequeath to Humanity, always in the search of beauty and eternity.

Samuel Bugeja distanced himself from imitations, having developed his own characteristic style, personalized and modern: strong in the characters he sculpted, conveying personality to the portraits that he creates, besides the intelligence and creativity in the admirable themes he evolves.

Bugeja the artist, because of his total dedication to work, became too much inward looking, spending his existence between his art studio and his family – to the detriment of exposure towards the general public. However, one cannot say that he was a misanthropist when, in fact, he was just reserved, which characteristic has not impeded his artistic work from saturation of human sentiment that elevates and moves the spirit. Besides, being an honest person, spotless in his clarity of understanding the meaning of life, Samuel has the natural gift to convey his art work in a universal context, easily appreciated by one and all, besides overflowing in all the riches of latent feelings.

The son of Adam and Josephine Galea, Samuel was born in Rabat on the 27th April 1920. Since his father was an excellent wood carver, specializing in decorative art, Samuel grew up in this school, continually replenishing himself with love for this form of art. Growing up, Samuel kept his clear vision of a wide horizon that was signaling the direction of his future career.

Samuel Bugeja's Parents

Following the fatherly coaching, Samuel started attending the Government School of Art under the direction of Antonio Micallef, Vincenzo Apap and George Borg regarding sculpture whilst design was under the guidance of Edward Caruana Dingli. For six consecutive years he succeeded in achieving top marks in modelling, eventually even acquiring prizes in the design exams. These top placings made him the preferred choice for the Scholarship which qualified him to attend studies in Britain. At the Leicester School of Art, where he sculpted various notable works of art, he was equally admired by his Lecturers and fellow students alike.

A Clay Model

Throughout his travels, Samuel always took the opportunity to visit museums and art exhibitions, thus deepening his knowledge on European masterpieces.

On his return to Malta in 1949, he was commissioned to prepare a series of bas-reliefs in bronze for the new pulpit of the Stella Maris parish church at Sliema. Awesome in their delicately conceived and executed form. Particularly those depicting the Assumption and the Star of the Seas, revealed an uncommon expressive talent. The former theme represents a cluster of clouds with angels lifting the Virgin Mary to the Heavens. The latter theme represents a vessel in difficulties at sea during a storm – divinely protected by the Virgin Mary that navigates the vessel towards its safe harbour.

Part of Stella Maris Paris Church, Sliema - Pulpit