About this artwork

The figures are arranged across the picture as though in a classical sculpted frieze. Their ample solidity and richly coloured robes reflect the influence of Raphael and Titian on Poussin's early work in Rome. Saint Catherine of Alexandria receives a ring symbolising her spiritual marriage to Christ. She was baptised a Christian (supposedly in the fourth century) and refused to marry the Roman Emperor. He had her tortured on a wheel (after which the 'Catherine wheel' firework is named) but it broke miraculously. She was then beheaded. The palm frond and sword symbolise her martyrdom. Unusually, the painting is on five oak panels rather than canvas.

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Nicolas Poussin

Nicolas Poussin