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Pintoricchio, Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor

Key facts
Full title Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor
Artist Pintoricchio
Artist dates active 1481; died 1513
Date made probably about 1480-1500
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 56.5 × 38.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lt.-General Sir William George Moore, 1862
Inventory number NG693
Location Gallery B
Collection Main Collection
Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor

This painting was made for private worship, and the donor who commissioned it is shown kneeling in prayer towards the majestic figure of Saint Catherine. Catherine, shown wearing a crown, was a princess from Alexandria. Behind her is the spiked wheel that she was tied to in an attempt to kill her, a torture she miraculously survived. The sword – once covered with silver leaf – is a reminder of her eventual beheading.

The donor’s tonsure (partly shaved hair) shows that he was a cleric. He has been identified as Jacopo Pesaro, Bishop of Paphos, Cyprus: his features resemble the profile view of Pesaro in a painting by Titian made in 1502, which shows him being presented to Pope Alexander VI. It was Alexander who made Pesaro bishop in 1495 and our picture may commemorate that event. The idea is supported by Alexander’s particular devotion to Saint Catherine.

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