[MR] Restoration of Caravaggio's Saint Catherine

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 02:46:58 PST 2018

Noble Friends,

Today the History Blog is reporting on the restoration of Caravaggio's
painting Saint Catherine of Alexandria. This 1598 work has just gone
through a major cleaning and repair at the Museo Nacional
Thyssen-Bornemisza. The restoration included all the high-tech toys
available today, and revealed many secrets about the artist's work,
including changes in the composition:
http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/53689 .

The Museo's web site has more photos, including before-and-after
comparisons, plus an interesting video clip with lovely music in the
background (post-SCA Baroque, if my ear catches things correctly, but still
very nice):

While you are contemplating painting, take note of the sword. This is
definitely NOT the Roman-era sword that Catherine would have met her end
by. The weapon's style points to the fact that arms and armor, and to a
lesser extent clothing in period paintings, are often contemporary to the
time of the artist. While this might seem jarring in Biblical-themed
paintings, the artists didn't have good historical examples, except perhaps
for sculptures. For us it is a bonus. This is a fine example of a late 16th
century basket-hilt rapier. I'm no expert on swords, but can recognize its
era and appreciate the design.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria was a very popular and important saint in the
middle ages. For more about her life and martyrdom, see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_of_Alexandria . Catholic Online has
a biographical sketch of Catherine, which includes a YouTube video showing
other representations of the saint in art at
https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=341 .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆

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