Gaudenzio Ferrari
St. Catherine of Alexandria at the Wheel

First decade of the 17th century
Oil on canvas, 36.2 x 27.4 in. (92 x 69.5 cm.)
Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio, Milan, Italy

St. Catherine of Alexandria is posed between the two wheels of the torture contraption Maxentius hoped would frighten her into submission. That much is traditional. But it is most unusual to portray this saint half-naked. Traditionally she has a very modest neckline, neatly arranged hair, and a crown – even at her beheading. Perhaps the artist may have been influenced by images of St. Mary Magdalene.

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