Bernardo Strozzi
(Genua, 1581-1644, Venedig)
St. Catherine of Alexandria, ca. 1618/20
Oil on canvas, 165 x 130 cm

Bernardo Strozzi is one of those "pittori forestieri" who, in the 3rd decade of the 17th century, prepared the way for the emergence of the Baroque style in Venice. This painting is a typical example of his middle period, dating from around 1620. The Bührle Collection's painting still seems to radiate reverberations of the religious enthusiasm that took hold of the young artist in 1598, when for a time he was in a Capuchin monastery. At any rate, this spontaneously appealed to his contemporaries, so that Strozzi was obliged to repeat this theme a number of times. A total of three, practically identical versions have survived, among them the picture in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. Moreover, in addition to the purely artistic status of the painting, the great popularity of the Saint since the 15th century also no doubt induced Strozzi on more than one occasion to take up this theme.