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Artemisia Gentileschi paints herself in the guise of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a Christian saint martyred in the early fourth century. She leans on a broken wheel studded with iron spikes, the instrument of Catherine’s torture and the saint’s standard attribute. Her right hand, delicately holding a martyr’s palm between thumb and forefinger, is brought to her chest. The painting dates from Artemisia’s period of activity in Florence, where she moved in 1612 following her rape by Agostino Tassi and the infamous trial that ensued.
oil on canvas
H 71.5 x W 71 cm
purchased with the support of the American Friends of the National Gallery, the National Gallery Trust, the Art Fund (through the legacy of Sir Denis Mahon), Lord and Lady Sassoon, Lady Getty, Hannah Rothschild, CBE, and other donors including those who wish to remain anonymous, 2018