Pierre Mignard

Mystic Marriage of St Catherine

Mystic Marriage of St Catherine
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Pierre Mignard
Painting, Oil on canvas, 134x105 cm
Origin: France, 1669

"The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine" was painted among many works executed by Mignard to decorate various Parisian residences and the salons of art lovers. The subject of the painting is taken from the Golden Legend, a collection of the lives of Western European saints which was compiled by Jacobus de Voragine in the 13th century.

St Catherine, who came from a royal family, lived in Alexandria during the reign of the Roman emperor Maximinus. She was a Christian and attempted to convert the emperor to the Christian faith, but was subjected to cruel torture and executed. During prayer she saw a vision that she was married in heaven to the infant Christ. In his painting, Mignard has depicted the moment when the Virgin took the hand of Catherine and the Saviour placed a precious ring on her finger. The palm branch, which she holds in her other hand, symbolizes victory over death. The sword lying at the feet of the saint is the instrument of her martyrdom.

Pierre Mignard , whose entire work is in the official decorative trend in French painting, was celebrated as a portraitist, but also did many paintings on historical and religious subjects, following the examples of the Classical art of Nicolas Poussin and the Italian academic artist Dominichino. This is expressed chiefly in the carefully thought out and balanced composition of the Hermitage canvas. At the same time there is a pronounced elegance to the drawing, the tone is lively and rich, and the mild chiaroscuro corresponded perfectly to the character of the brilliant art of France in the second half of the 17th century.

Personage: St Catherine
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: via the State Museum Fund from the Vorontsov-Dashkov collection, 1920
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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