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Santa Catalina de Alejandria

ca. 1780-1818 Felipe de la Espada Born: San German, Puerto Rico Died: San Germán, Puerto Rico 1818 carved, painted, and gilded wood with glass 33 7/8 x 15 x 11 1/2 in. (86.1 x 38.2 x 29.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Teodoro Vidal Collection 1996.91.37 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing


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Felipe de la Espada and his son Tiburcio carved in the tradition of the most skilled artisans of the Spanish Catholic Church. In this santo, St. Catherine’s gown was decorated using estofado, a method of painting over gold leaf that duplicates the radiance of rich brocade. After Catherine was baptized, Christ appeared to her in a dream and took her as his celestial bride, placing a ring on her finger. As a young woman she angered Maximinus II, who ruled Alexandria, when she converted the empress and the emperor’s philosophers to Christianity. Maximinus ordered Catherine’s death, having her bound between four spiked wheels. A flame from heaven destroyed the wheels, but she was eventually beheaded. She is usually represented in works of art and ritual objects as a beautiful young woman wearing a crown to denote her noble heritage.

Keywords

Religion - saint - St. Catherine

sculpture

glass

wood

About Felipe de la Espada

Born: San German, Puerto Rico Died: San Germán, Puerto Rico 1818

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Felipe de la Espada

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