Saint Catherine, a fourth-century Christian martyr, is shown with the spiked wheel used to torture her. The sword and books are also traditional attributes of the saint. An artist of exceptional refinement and elegance, Bernardo Cavallino specialized in small-scale paintings and half-length compositions that owe much to the naturalistic style of Ribera and to the example of Venetian painting filtered through Rubens.
Alessandro Laliccia, Naples (by 1921–at least 1938); Samuel Untermyer, Greystone, Yonkers (until d. 1940; his estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, May 16, 1940, no. 539, for $1000 to Seligmann); [Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., New York, 1940–43; sold to MMA]
Aldo de Rinaldis. Bernardo Cavallino. Rome, 1921, p. 17, pl. 15, lists this picture in his catalogue of Cavallino's works, noting that it was not previously published; locates it in the collection of Alessandro Laliccia, Naples.
Ettore Sestieri. "Ricerche su Cavallino." Dedalo 2 (1921), pp. 196, 198, ill. p. 191, dates it after 1645, the date of Cavallino's signed and dated "Saint Cecilia" (Palazzo Vecchio, Florence); compares it to a "Saint Barbara" (Galante collection, Naples) that he ascribes to Stanzione.
Margherita Nugent. Alla mostra della pittura italiana del' 600 e '700: note e impressioni. Vol. 2, San Casciano Val di Pesa, 1930, p. 573, as by Cavallino, in the collection of the lawyer Laticcia [sic], Naples; relates it to a "Female Martyr Saint" (duca Enrico Proto d'Albaneta, Naples), which she calls an early work.
Sergio Ortolani inLa mostra della pittura napoletana dei secoli XVII - XVIII - XIX. Naples, 1938, p. 66, as by Cavallino, in the Laliccia collection.
Margaretta Salinger. "A Baroque Painting of Saint Catherine." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), pp. 296–99, ill., accepts Sestieri's [see Ref. 1921] dating after 1645.
Ferdinando Bologna. Unpublished opinion. 1962, judging from a photograph, questions the attribution to Cavallino, finding only the architecture and the saint's head characteristic of his style.
Ann Percy. "Bernardo Cavallino." Master's thesis, Pennsylvania State University, 1965, p. 56, no. 41, as by Cavallino.
Alfred Moir. The Italian Followers of Caravaggio. Cambridge, Mass., 1967, vol. 1, p. 176 n. 80; vol. 2, p. 66, no. 7, attributes this picture to Cavallino and places it in the 1640s or later; calls it Stanzionesque and suggests that both Stanzione's and Cavallino's paintings of ecstatic single female saints respond to Guido Reni and Van Dyck.
Raffaello Causa. La pittura del Seicento a Napoli dal naturalismo al barocco. Naples, 1972, p. 984 n. 116, although he has only seen a photograph of the picture, questions Salinger's [Ref. 1943] attribution to Cavallino, commenting on the "waxy, statuesque, mannered" quality, as well as the perspectively incorrect architecture; sees in it, nevertheless, some characteristics of Cavallino's late style.
Maria Minicuci inDizionario enciclopedico Bolaffi dei pittori e degli incisori italiani. Vol. 3, Turin, 1972, pp. 207–8, includes it in a list of Cavallino's more important works.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 50, 385, 608.
Grace G. Fowler in Ann Tzeutschler Lurie and Ann Percy. Bernardo Cavallino of Naples, 1616–1656. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1984, p. 235, no. 54 [Italian ed., "Bernardo Cavallino," Electa, Naples, 1985, p. 227, no. 51], finds the blue and gold palette "very Cavallinesque," but notes that the "flat, wooden handling of paint and the clumsy contours of draperies" are inconsistent with his style, calling it the work of an artist "intimately acquainted" with his manner.
Gianluca Forgione. "'Imitando il bel girar degli occhi usato da quell'ammirabil maestro': le 'sante vergini' di Cavallino e Guarini." Francesco Guarini: nuovi contributi. Ed. Mario Alberto Pavone. [Pozzuoli], 2012, vol. 1, pp. 87, 89 n. 5, mentions the evident intervention of a collaborator or follower.
Nicola Spinosa. Grazia e tenerezza "in posa": Bernardo Cavallino e il suo tempo, 1616–1656. Rome, 2013, pp. 153, 378–79, 505, no. 110, ill. p. 379, fig. 172 (color), attributes it to Cavallino and calls it a late work; notes that the same model posed for the Madonna in the "Adoration of the Shepherds" in the Cleveland Museum of Art and also for the "Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy" in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples.