St. Catherine of Alexandria
Bernardino Luini, 1527 - 1531
National Gallery of London, London, UK

The Lombardian painter Bernardino Luini (1480?-1532) was very impressed seeing Leonardo's works during Leonardo's second stay in Milan (1506 - 1513). He studied Leonardo's drawings, compositions, chiaro-scuro and sfumato techniques to the best of his knowledge and ability. In his later works he imitated the style of Leonardo so exactly and in all its details that his paintings could not be easily distinguished from Leonardo's original works. Luini's "St. Catherine of Alexandria" (ca. 1527) until 1863 was recognized as Leonardo's original work. Despite of Luini's diligence and his studies of Leonardo style, he was never able to surpass Leonardo bella maniera.
In this composition St. Catherine is standing between two angels, holding a book in her hands. She seems not to be reading but contemplating, listening to the sounds of her thoughts, completely carried away from surrounding reality. Her face and her pose express mystery, grace and divinity. The angel on the left holds a palm, symbol of martyr's triumph over death. The angel on the right holds her traditional attribute of wheel on which she was tortured.
The coloring of Saint is very beautiful, deep, calm, brown and golden tones emphasizing the dense, noble raspberry colour of her clothing. Her social status is indicated by her clothing made of high-quality materials and a book in her hand, probably Gospels. The soft misty light and shade seems to surround her.
According to legend, St Catherine was ordered to be tortured for her loyalty to the Christian faith. The Roman emperor Maxentius sent 50 philosophers to persuade her to abandon her faith and marry him, but she, by her argument, converted them to Christianity. (read more about St. Catherine of Alexnadria in Glossary)

St. Catherine of  Alexandria by Bernardino Luini, 1527
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