Bernardo Daddi (attr.), Saint Catherine of Alexandria and donor

Bernardo Daddi (attr.)
Sala della Maddalena
Original location
Wood, tempera pigments, gold
Shaping, painting, punching, gilding
Height: 211 cm; Width: 85,5 cm; Thickness: 4,5 cm;
Wood, tempera pigments, gold

Painting on panel of St Catherine of Alexandria with the donator in prayer, attributed to Bernardo Daddi and his workshop, mid-14th century. A cloverleaf-shaped inset, featuring Christ with his hand raised in blessing, is set in the arch above the panel’s main subject, a crowned figure of St Catherine against a gold-leaf background. St Catherine is shown standing, facing forwards, wearing a pink robe with a floral motif and a mantle in an identical color and pattern. The donator is shown on a smaller scale kneeling below, protected by the saint’s mantle. The painting also contains several references to the saint’s martyrdom: her pink robe alludes to her spilt blood and the charity which led her to make the extreme sacrifice for her faith; behind her are the toothed wheels, symbol of her initial, unsuccessful, martyrdom and a palm she holds in her right hand. The red book she holds in the other hand alludes to her Christian knowledge, because legend narrates how she amazed the learned pagan scholars of the Emperor Maxentius’ court by refuting all their arguments. The fact that the book is red may also be another reference to blood, and the penalty Catherine paid for her eloquence.

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Sala della Maddalena