Painting, oil on panel, depicting the mystical marriage of Saint Catherine, with dimensions of 62 x 75 cm without frame and 79 x 90 cm with contemporary frame by the painter Polidoro da Lanciano (Lanciano 1515 - Venice 1565).
The painting is in a good state of legibility and depicts one of the most widely diffused iconographic subjects from the Christian tradition. Here presented following an ancient and tested scheme that the child wants, the Virgin, Saint Catherine and Saint Joseph are the protagonists of a pleasant devotional representation, the so-called mystical marriage of Saint Catherine.
Mary is taken in a tender attitude towards her son, in fact she is supporting the book that he is leafing through, while the child's nakedness is noteworthy, indispensable for revealing to the onlookers its dual nature: the divine nature, declared by the brightness emanating from the whole his body, and the earthly one, likewise witnessed by his innocent nakedness. The scene is bordered by a green drape that opens against the background of the sky and a hill. As regards stylistic data, we are faced with the work of a talented teacher active in northern Italy in the first half of the sixteenth century, specifically in the Venetian and lagoon areas, as shown by the typological composition and chromatic characteristics of the table in which stand out precisely references to Venetian sixteenth-century culture, Titianesque in the first place.
From the art of Vecellio and Jacopo Palma derives the particular and characteristic style of this master, very active and titular, from the thirties onwards of a well-established painting workshop in Contrada San Pantaleo in the Dorsoduro district of Venice. His catalog to date is formed by works of a devotional nature with sacred conversations in the manner of Titian and Palma the Elder. This table is also linked to these, which highlight not only the typical types and gestures of Polidoro but also the creative approach, the brilliance of the colors and the peculiar way of drapery as seen in works such as Madonna with child and SS. Caterina, Andrea and Francesco and Saint Bishop in Lanciano or Madonna with Tobia and the angel in a private collection.
This is a very important iconographic subject in which the co-protagonist of the work is Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the girl of royal lineage, who for these reasons is portrayed with princely dresses and with her hair well braided with a string of pearls. The young woman is receiving from Jesus the wedding ring re-enacting a vision she had before her martyrdom with the cogwheel; a story reminiscent of a young Saint Catherine who by refusing to idolize pagan idols for her Christian faith is forced to endure numerous tortures including the cogwheel, but she was then miraculously saved by lightning hurled by the Lord that destroyed the terrible instrument of torture. Here we can speak of an elegant figurative lexicon, sometimes even renewed, as revealed by the particular physiognomies of the characters, the bright yet balanced colors and the slightly eccentric ductus in which the slightly elongated shapes, the timbre tones and the evanescent fragments also stand out.
This interesting work is in a good state of preservation and was executed with an accurate oil painting technique made with light and decisive overlapping color strokes and spread with the tip of the brush to accentuate the contrasts of light and shadow in the drapery; the pleasant and gratifying end result was achieved with the use of a range of warm and appropriately balanced colors. We can find the same artistic sense of our table and also the composition, the brilliance of warm colors and the characteristic drapery also in the Madonna and Child Enthroned and the Saints Giovanni Evangelista and Nicola of the Castle Museum in L'Aquila.
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