DA PAVIA Belbello
Sainte Catherine d’Alexandrie
parchemin (peint, doré) H. 20 cm ; l. 17 cm
don Wildenstein Daniel (donateur) (1981 acquis)
Although not identified by art historians until 1915, Belbello da Pavia was an outstanding illuminator active in his native Lombardy and in the Veneto. His patrons included powerful families of northern Italy such as the Estes, the Viscontis, the Sforzas, and the Gonzagas. The leaf at the Musée Marmottan Monet may have come from the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. The work it illustrated is not known. Specialists regard this composition as one of the artist’s masterpieces. The remarkable figure of the saint is shown crowned, holding a book and the martyr’s palm, her breast transfixed by a sword. Historians identify her as Catherine of Alexandria, although this Egyptian martyr was traditionally represented with a wheel and brandishing a sword (with which she was put to death, having escaped torture on the wheel). It is not impossible, however, that the subject is Justina of Padua, who is usually shown with a sword through her neck.