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9th September – 23rd October 2022

Spaces C1-C4

150 years on, the Richard Ellis photographic collection remains an incredibly valuable part of Maltese cultural heritage in terms of historical value, artistic expression and technical excellence.

Richard Ellis arrived in Malta in April 1861, under the tutelage of James and Sarah Conroy, after travelling extensively in Europe as part of a circus troupe. To avoid military unrest during the unification of Italy, they decided to stay in Malta and set up a photographic studio in Senglea. James and Richard had previously trained at the Daguerre Institute, learning the techniques of the budding art of photography.

In 1871, Richard Ellis opened his own photographic studio in one of Valletta’s trendiest streets of that time, Strada Stretta (Triq id-Dejqa), a hub for photographic studios pre-1900. After years of a thriving business, in 1909, the studio was moved to a larger more prominent building at 278, Strada Reale (Triq ir-Repubblika).  Richard Ellis passed away in 1924 but he remains one of the most creative, technically proficient, and business-savvy photographers to ever grace the island.

This exhibit aims to showcase a variety of photographs that portray all the strata of Maltese and foreign society in the studio or on location during that period, from British royalty and Maltese nobility to merry sailors and those who till and toiled the land, all the maritime thoroughfare and view of Malta long gone, now lost forever. The authentic recreation of the Richard Ellis studio with the original props and functional antique cameras is a unique opportunity that cannot be missed.


Charles Paul Azzopardi & Ian Ellis, with the collaboration of the National Archives of Malta