Ludovico Carracci
The Madonna and Child with Saints

1607
Oil on copper
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The man in white in the foreground is St. Bernard of Clairvaux. St. Peter stands behind him with his keys. Behind Peter is St. Andrew, identified by his messy hair. At Peter's right, with the sword as his attribute, is St. Paul. The woman in the crown is St. Catherine of Alexandria, identified by both the crown and the fragment of a broken wheel visible at her knee.

The saint on Catherine's right holds a palm branch marking her as a martyr, like all the worshippers in the painting except Bernard. The stalk of wheat in the Christ Child's right hand may refer to a saying of Jesus related to martyrdom, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal" (John 12:24-25).

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Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.