Joseph Paul Cassar - Gold Medal Awardee 2019

Professor Joseph Paul Cassar was awarded the Malta Society of Arts’ 2019 Gold Medal in recognition for his contribution to the arts.  The presentation was held at the Concert Hall of the Malta Society of Arts, Valetta, Malta, on Thursday, November 28, 2019.  The medal was presented by Architect and President of the Malta Society of Arts, Adrian Mamo.

A Biographical Outline

Joseph Paul Cassar’s artistic career originated at a very early age when he used to accompany his father visiting art exhibitions at the Museum of Archaeology.  He attended the Malta Government School of Art and studied painting under Esprit Barthet, Harry Alden and art history with Fr Marius Zerafa, former Director of Museums.  To further his art studies Joseph proceeded to Perugia at the Accademia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannucci to further specialize in drawing, painting and printing, studying under Professors Romeo Mancini, Bruno Munari and Bruno Orfei.

Joseph P. Cassar holds a bachelors in Educational studies, a Bachelors in Philosophical and Theological Studies, a masters in Art History and Criticism, a Masters in Fine Arts, and a Ph.D in Art History and Criticism from the University of Malta.  Joseph Paul Cassar is currently Professor of art in the Department of Art and Graphic Communications of the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Prof. Cassar is a prolific contributor to publishers in Malta.  His publications are numerous.  A complete list is available at:   

He has published several scholarly books and his research in Maltese Modern Art  has become a benchmark study in this field.  Most notable are the two volumes entitled: “Pioneers of Modern Art in Malta” (Vol I: 2010 awarded best book prize for research; Vol II: 2019).  Other important publications are “Carmelo Mangion: His Life and Works 1905-1997” (2008, also awarded Best Book Prize for Research), “Conversations with 12 Maltese Artists”, (2007), “Antoine Camilleri: His Life and Works 1922- 2005” (2006), “Caesar Attard” (2008), “Philip Chircop: Abstract Expressions” (2010), “The Art and Life of George Fenech 1926-2011” (with Lino Borg, 2012), “The Life and Works of Lewis Wirth 1923- 2010 and Helen Cavarra 1926-1978”, (2014).

Joseph Paul Cassar currently lives and works in the U.S.A. making regular trips to his homeland Malta where he is often called to give public lectures.  

History of the Gold Medal Award


The Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, established just over 160 years ago, was, for at least a century, the islands’ only nationally recognized promoter of the Arts.  Palazzo de La Salle served as the meeting place and exhibition space for the Accademia di Belle Arti group founded by Josef Kalleja in 1930.  Notably, in the early 1950’s, the Society came to the aid of the newly-formed Modern Art movements and awarded scholarships to some of the great artists of the time, including Giuseppe Calì, Antonio Sciortino and Joseph Briffa.

Throughout the years, the Exhibition Halls of Palazzo de La Salle have been graced with the works of Malta’s great masters including Anton Inglott, Gianni Vella, Vincent Apap, Lazzaro Pisani and Edward Caruana Dingli, Emvin Cremona, Frank Portelli, John Spiteri Sacco among others.

Past recipients of the Gold Medal Award have included such illustrious names as Sir Temi Zammit (1904), Robert Caruana Dingli (1916), Emvin Cremona (1963), Oreste Chircop (1997), Richard England (1984), Joseph Calleja (2007), Harry Alden (2013) and Carmine Lauri (2015) to name but a few.