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A Female Figure resting on a Sword (Saint Catherine of Alexandria?)

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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A young woman leans on the hilt of a sword and there is what appears to be a fragment of a wheel next to her shoulder. She is probably Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the fourth-century martyr who was tortured by being bound to a wheel studded with iron spikes and later beheaded. We don’t know who painted this picture, but it is quite sophisticated in its handling. The soft modelling of the clasped hands is quite different to the crisp modelling of the white undershirt. The figure appears all the more three-dimensional for being set against a plain dark background. Although the painting is now classified as Italian, it may be by a French artist working in Rome in the seventeenth century, perhaps in the circle of Simon Vouet or Carlo Saraceni.

The National Gallery, London



A Female Figure resting on a Sword (Saint Catherine of Alexandria?)


probably 18th C


Oil on wood


H 53.3 x W 45.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by F.D. Lycett Green through The Art Fund, 1926

Work type


Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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