Mystic marriage of St. Catherine

   This event, a common subject in art, is a vision experienced by St. Catherine of Alexandria where the Christ Child placed a gold ring on her finger, resulting in her conversion to Christianity. The scene is usually depicted as an intimate moment, with Christ sitting on his mother's lap and leaning toward the saint to give her the ring. This is how Lucas Cranach the Elder presented the scene in c. 1516 (Budapest, Szepmuveszeti Muzeum) and Correggio in c. 1520 (Paris, Louvre). Gerard David rendered the mystic marriage as a more solemn and less intimate moment (c. 1505; London, National Gallery). In his version, the Virgin and Child are enthroned in the center of the composition, separated from the cityscape in the background by a brocaded cloth of honor, and flanked by two saints at either side, including St. Catherine who receives the ring from Christ. Fra Bartolomeo rendered the scene as a major miraculous event (1512; Florence, Galleria dell' Accademia), with the Virgin and Child standing beneath an elaborate baldachin supported by putti, musical angels at their feet, and a number of witnesses.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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