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Relief - The Martyrdom of St. Catherine

The Martyrdom of St. Catherine

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory in relief

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This carved ivory object representing the Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is made by an unknown artist in the middle of the 17th century in Germany.
It was possibly part of the cresting of a reliquary.

St. Catherine 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. The legend tells that she was to be condemned to death on a wheel, which broke, when she touched it. She was then beheaded instead.

Physical description

This pierced relief in ivory represents the martyrdom of St. Catherine. In the centre is a scaffold with a broken wheel and an angel descending towards the kneeling Saint: executioners and spectators stand round amazed, and on the right the Emperor Maxentius is enthroned.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


ca. 1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Ivory in relief


Height: 4.5 cm, Width: 15.5 cm

Object history note

Bought from the Museum of the Collegio Romano, Rome in 1859.
It was possibly part of the cresting of a reliquary.

Historical context note

A somewhat similar composition appears among the fourteenth-century reliefs of the Life of St. Catherine by Tino di Camaino and his pupils, in white marble on a ground of black marble, in the Church of Santa Chiara at Naples.

Descriptive line

Relief, carved in ivory, representing the Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria, German, ca. 1650

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1859. 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. 33
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, p. 93
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 54





Subjects depicted

Angel; Spectator; Executioner; Wheel; Scaffold


Reliefs; Religion; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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