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Title St Catherine of Alexandria
Collection Astley Cheetham Art Gallery, Stalybridge
Artist After Luini, Bernardino (Italian painter and draftsman, ca. 1480-ca. 1532)
Previously attributed to Italian (Milanese) School
Date Earliest about 1520
Date Latest about 1600

St Catherine of Alexandria, a popular saint across Italy, was a learned virgin who effectively argued against the paganism of the Roman emperor Maxentius. Maxentius summoned fifty philosophers to defend his stance, but she converted them to Christianity along with the emperor's wife and two hundred soldiers, all of whom as a result were put to death. Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel, but was miraculously freed and finally beheaded.

Luini was a leading Milanese artist whose first signed works are dated to 1507. He was chiefly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, so much so that several of his works were previously attributed to Leonardo. Here the androgynous angels and downward looking oval face of the saint are typically Leonardesque. This composition exists in a number of versions but it is not clear which may be the original conception of the artist, especially since Luini controlled a large workshop.

Current Accession Number ASTAC:1932.7
Former Accession Number 1/16/5
Subject religion (St Catherine)
Measurements 75.0 x 64.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by J. F. Cheetham 1932.
Principal Exhibitions Christian Arts Festival, Graves Gallery, Sheffield, 1955.
Notes Research notes by Christopher Baker, 1989, held by Astley Cheetham Art Gallery: 'When the gallery received the work it was described simply as being from the Milanese school, but by 1975 it was more specifically linked to Luini. The composition is known to exist in a number of versions, but it is by no means clear which is the original conception of the artist. This work lies very close in terms of design to a panel in the National Gallery, London (no.3956), which likewise is described as being after Luini. The execution of this work is cruder than that of the London panel, being less detailed and particularly weak with regard to the anatomy of the figures. The androgynous angels and the downward looking oval face of the saint are ultimately indebted to Leonardo'. ' With regard to the attribution of works to Luini, the scarcity of documentation on the painter's life makes this difficult. Also his 'extreme popularity with both collectors and critics from c.1790 to the end of the 19th century had unfortunate consequences: many of his frescos were detached from their original settings, many of the panel paintings were transferred to canvas and other works were heavily restored. As a result few survive in a good state and of the 700 works attributed to Luini, many seem over optimistic.' Flavio Boggi, 'Luini, Bernardino', Grove Art Online, Oxford University Press, 2 March 2006, http://www.groveart.com/.
Rights Owner Astley Cheetham Art Gallery
Author Lisa Howard



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