- Reference number
- Yáñez de la Almedina, Fernando
- Saint Catherine
- Ca. 1510
- 212 cm x 112 cm
- On display
- Marqués de Casa Argudin, 1946; acquired in 1946 by the Ministry of National Education for the Prado Museum
Saint Catherine (fourth century) was a Roman virgin of noble birth who was condemned to death as a martyr by Emperor Maximinius. She was tied to a wheel with knife blades, but when she touched that instrument of torture, it was miraculously destroyed, and she was finally killed by decapitation.
Yáñez depicts the martyr wearing sumptuous clothing indicative of her high birth. She steps on the wheel and holds the sword with which she was martyred. The crown on the low wall in the background alludes to her royal blood and the book recalls the wisdom with which she was able to defend her faith and eloquently convert all the philosophers and scholars that the Emperor sent to make her recant. The palm leaf lying on the book symbolizes her martyrdom.
The provenance of this work is unknown, but it may have been the central panel of an altarpiece, given its elongated format and its composition, which shows the saint accompanied exclusively by her attributes. This is an exceptional example of Spanish renaissance painting, with great geometrical rigor and a delicate and smooth technique.