- Reference number
- Dyck, Anton van
- The Mystic Betrothal of saint Catherine
- 124 cm x 174 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (Collection of the Marquis of Leganés, Madrid, after 1637, n. 286; Collection of Isabel Farnesio, “dormitorio de sus Majestades”, 1746, n. 239; La Granja Palace, “dormitorio”, 1766, n. 239; Royal Palace of Aranjuez, “pieza de tocador”, 1794, n. 239; Aranjuez Palace, “tocador de la reina”, 1818, n. 239)
The daughter of King Constus, Catherine of Alexandria lived in the early fourth century and was martyred for her Christian faith. Famous for her beauty, wisdom, eloquence and chastity, she is frequently depicted at the moment of her mystical union with Christ.
The center of the composition is the ring which the Christ Child gives to Catherine. She is sumptuously dressed and bejeweled as corresponds to her lineage. The sword she carries and the angel's palm allude to her martyrdom. Behind the main figures, Saint Francis and another friar witness the event.
A Corinthian capital and a fallen whip in the lower left corner evoke the Latin etymology of her name (Catherina means “ruin”), as she destroyed everything the Devil sought to build. At the same time, these remains display the painter's archeological knowledge, which may have come from his contact with the Duke of Buckingham, a great lover of art and antiquities.
This painting belonged to the Marquis of Leganés in the seventeenth century. In 1745, it was in the collection of Queen Isabel de Farnesio.