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Statuette - Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    second half of 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This terracotta statuette, made in the 15th century by an unknown artist represents Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
Saint Catherine, who is also called St Catherine of the Wheel or the Great Martyr Saint Catherine, is a Christian Saint and Martyr. Her principal symbol is a spiked wheel and her feast day is 25th November by most Christian churches.

Following the Golden Legend she showed great erudition from an early age. She became queen, converted to Christianity and had a vision of marrying Christ. Maxentius, the Roman Emperor desired her and sent out 50 philosophers to try to interfere in her faith. Instead the philosophers were all converted to Christianity themselves.
The legend tells that she was to be condemned to death on a torture wheel with iron spikes, which broke, when she touched it. She was then beheaded instead. There is doubt about her historical authenticity.

Physical description

This terracotta statuette, which is left in the rough behind, represents the figure of the Saint, in full length on a shallow rectangular base. Over her close-fitting robe she wears a voluminous cloak, which is caught up by her left hand. In her right hand she holds a conventionalised wheel and in her left a book. She wears a crown on her flowing hair. On the front of the base is the cursive inscription: Di.frate.Tom.....agli.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


second half of 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed on the base in cursive.


Height: 68.9 cm

Object history note

Purchased from the Gigli-campana Collection, £10.

Descriptive line

Statuette, terracotta, 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria', by an unknown artist, Florence, 15th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1861. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 36
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 92
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 208, 209



Subjects depicted

Cloak; Wheel; Book


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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