Two Female Martyred Saints

March 1, 2013—June 23, 2013
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Location: Nelson-Atkins Building, Gallery P15

Admission is Free.

Blood, gore and gruesome beheadings? Would you have guessed these women are known for their fervent devotion to their faith and their tragic martyrdoms? Their pleasant expressions and elegant dress suggest that they are fashionable young women rather than martyred saints.

For a limited time, this painting of Catherine of Alexandria is on loan from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT in exchange for our Caravaggio, Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness. We placed her alongside our own Strozzi painting of a female saint, Cecilia, who similarly was martyred for her Christian faith.

Though Catherine and Cecilia perished at the hands of executioners, these paintings barely acknowledge their tragic deaths. After all, it was much easier to live with a painting of a martyred saint resembling an attractive young woman, than a horrific martyrdom scene.

Images: Left: Bernardo Strozzi, Italian, 1581/1582-1644. Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1610-1615. 69 1/8 x 48 1/2 inches. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY. Right: Bernardo Strozzi, Italian, 1581/1582-1644. Saint Cecilia, 1620-1625. Oil on canvas, 68 1/8 x 48 3/8 x 1 7/8 inches. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 44-39.

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