Description Saint Catherine of Alexandria (Egypt) was a noblewoman, who, in the early 4th century, challenged the pagan Roman emperor with her faith in Christ. The emperor ordered her to be executed on a spiked wheel, but it miraculously broke, and he had her beheaded instead. She is identified here by the broken wheel with iron spikes. Ferrucci, master sculptor of the cathedral of Florence, left the back of the statue unfinished, indicating that it was to be placed in a niche or in front of a wall as part of an architectural setting. The drapery covers Catherine's body in a way that reveals its underlying form, and the gracefully elongated proportions, as in her neck, are characteristic of the 16th-century ideal of female beauty. The orange stain on her chest is from an iron necklace (that had rusted) that is now lost.
Provenance Heim Gallery, Ltd., London [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 16]; Walters Art Museum, September 1970, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase with funds provided by the S. & A.P. Fund, 1970
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