Santa Catalina, Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina

Santa Catalina, Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina
Santa Catalina, Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina

There are numerous works throughout history in which the models are beautiful women who act as the main character, whether in a painting with a religious, mythological or historical theme, in addition, of course, to those already well-known works of portraits-. On this occasion we are faced with an exceptional work, both for the beauty of the model and for the technical quality of the painting, which is by no means negligible.


Thus the work of Santa Catalina has been considered by art experts as one of the most beautiful works not only in the Spanish Renaissance but throughout Europe, in fact the quality of this work is such that for a long time It was considered that the piece could belong to the distinguished Leonardo da Vinci, one of the main figures of the Italian Renaissance, when in fact, it is the work of the artist Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina, a Castilian artist about whom not much information is known but about whom historians of art and critics places him in Italy during the first years of the 16th century, perhaps as Apprentice of Da Vinci himself.

In reality, we don't have too much information on who could have been the client of the piece, but it must have been a nobleman from high society since at that time Yáñez de la Almedina only worked for some of the most select clients in Spain as the Cathedral of Cuenca where some of itspaintings. What we do know is that the piece was kept in Valencia in the 17th century, where it was acquired by a member of the Creixell family, specifically by the engravings Vicente Pelenguer; later the work traveled to Cuba with a new owner, this time from the house of Argudín. Upon his return, it was exhibited at the Prado Museum in Madrid, who acquired it in the 1940s and where it remains today.

We find ourselves before a work done in oil on board in a vertical format that measures just over two meters in height and one in width. The piece must have been painted at the beginning of the 16th century, specifically between 1505 and 1510, elegantly representing Saint Catherine. The saint was very popular in the Modern Age when the book of the Golden Legend that Jacopo de la Vorágine had written in the 13th century became popular.

Saint Catherine came from a royal family and confronted Emperor Máximo II by converting to Christianity, for which she was sentenced to death by torture in a sinister machine with spiked wheels, although she was finally saved by an angel. Here she seems represented as an elegant woman who steps on the machine that was supposed to kill her. The verticality of her body contrasts with the relaxed gesture of her hands that move. In the background, classicist-style architecture acts as a backdrop so that the viewer does not divert attention from the main figure.

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