Sassoferrato (1609 - 1685)
- The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 231.5 x 137 cm
Object size: 265 x 170 x 12.5 cm
- Great Gallery
- Giovanni Battista Salvi was known as Sassoferrato, after his place of birth
in the Italian Marches. He developed an eclectic style which emulated the
fifteenth-century manner of Perugino and Raphael, but was also inspired
by his contemporary Domenichino. Sassoferrato’s paintings consist mainly
of immaculately painted devotional images of the Virgin and Holy Family,
usually repeated in several versions.
This altarpiece was painted in the 1650s for the church of S. Maria della Cima in Genzano, Italy. A squared preparatory study for the work is among sixty carefully finished drawings by the artist in the Royal Collection. It depicts
an episode in the Medieval ‘Golden Legend’ which recounts Catherine
of Alexandria’s vision of her mystic marriage to Christ. The spiked wheel
and the sword are the emblems of St Catherine’s subsequent martyrdom.
The painting was removed from the church of S. Maria della Cima in the
nineteenth century and replaced by a copy which hangs there today. The
4th Marquess of Hertford acquired the painting in 1856, at the sale of Horatio
Walpole, Earl of Orford.