Santa Catalina de Alejandria

  • Felipe de la Espada, Santa Catalina de Alejandria, ca. 1780-1818, carved, painted, and gilded wood with glass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Teodoro Vidal Collection, 1996.91.37

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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.

Santa Catalina de Alejandria
ca. 1780-1818
33 7/8 x 15 x 11 1/2 in. (86.1 x 38.2 x 29.3 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Teodoro Vidal Collection

Mediums Description
carved, painted, and gilded wood with glass
  • Religion – saint – St. Catherine
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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