barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


BERNARDO CAVALLINO (1616 – 1656)

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Naples, the end of the 1640s

Oil on canvas

71.7 x 59 cm

 

Saint Catherine holds the martyr’s palm on top of part of her spiked wheel. 

She was sentenced to be crushed on the wheel by the Emperor Maxentius because she had condemned the worship of pagan idols.  According to legend, the wheel was miraculously destroyed and instead she was beheaded. Cavallino specialised in painting intimate small-scale images of saints for private collectors.  The portrait format emphasises the ordinary human qualities of the Christian heroine.

 

Purchased 1965 (No.65.8)