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The Virgin and Child with Saints Barbara and Catherine

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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The Virgin Mary is seated on a marble and porphyry throne within a church; an opening on the left leads to a landscape. The infant Christ squats on her lap, and two saints kneel on either side: Catherine of Alexandria on the left and Barbara on the right.

The naked child, wrapped in a white cloth, places a ring on Saint Catherine’s finger. Traditionally known as the mystic marriage of Saint Catherine, this was a way of visualising her spiritual union with Christ. Behind Saint Barbara is her symbol: the tower in which she was imprisoned.

This is one of the rare surviving examples of a Renaissance painting done on cloth rather than wooden panel; although many such paintings were made, they were extremely fragile.

The National Gallery, London



probably about 1515-25


Glue on linen


H 92.7 x W 110 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Charles Bridger Orme Clarke, 1922

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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