Saint Catherine of Alexandria, with the Defeated Emperor

Probably the left wing of a triptych

Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy, Netherlandish (active Bruges), active c. 1470 - c. 1500

Made in Netherlands, Europe

c. 1482

Oil on panel

26 1/4 x 10 5/8 inches (66.7 x 27 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
Cat. 326

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Saint Catherine of Alexandria, here shown reading a book, was the patron saint of students and scholars. Because she refused to relinquish her faith under torture, she was revered in northern Europe during the Renaissance as a powerful helper for penitents in times of need. The sword she holds symbolizes her martyrdom and death by decapitation under the pagan emperor Maximinus. She stands victoriously over the emperor, secure in her eternal, spiritual life. The artist locates her triumph in his hometown of Bruges, depicted in the background, rather than in Catherine's native Alexandria.