The Entombment of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1636/1637
Francisco de Zurbarán
Saint Catherine was a 4th-century princess of Alexandria who vowed to devote her life to God and was martyred for refusing to marry the Emperor Maxentius. After torture by fire, she was condemned to death on a spiked wheel, shown in the painting's right foreground. When Catherine touched the wheel, it miraculously fell apart, and so she was beheaded. Zurbarán depicts the deceased saint being lifted by angels who will transport her to the top of Mount Sinai, her burial place. Typically Baroque, the action of the painting nearly spills into our own space, and its deep shadows reflect the widespread influence, in this instance extending beyond Italy into Spain, of Caravaggio.