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Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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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 National Gallery, London



Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor


probably about 1480-1500


Oil on wood


H 56.5 x W 38.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Lt.-General Sir William George Moore, 1862

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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