102.0 x 83.6 cm
St Catherine around 1638-40
Guido Reni 1575 - 1642
Oil on canvas
In contrast to Northern Europe, Italy remained Catholic
and much of the art was made for the church.
Guido Reni's blend of idealism and realism
produced images of saints,
with an emotional impact
to which Catholic congregations could relate.
St Catherine, Queen of Alexandria,
was executed by the Emperor Maxentius
after he had tried to torture her to death on a spiked wheel.
Her image here is one of quiet humility,
and beyond suffering.
This late work by Reni shows his abilities as a colourist.
X-rays show that it was originally conceived as St Margaret.
The attributes of St Catherine -
her crown, her martyr's palm,
and the wheel on which she was tortured -
were probably added by another hand.
Purchased with the financial assistance from the National Art Collections Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund