Bartolomeo Veneto (copy by) - inv. 3511
At the beginning of the 15th century, a particular genre of painting became widespread, especially in Venice: in it a saint, generally half-length. The holy nature of the work was, though, of secondary importance, and often, as in this case, even the halo was missing.
The custom of painting women "in the guise of", that is with the clothes and iconographical attributes of a saint, was already common in the preceding century. However, these images cannot be considered as proper portraits: rather, they are ideal feminine figures. This genre that can include works such as the Young Woman as Saint Catherine by Pietro degli Ingannati in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum (inv. 3493), or many famous works by Titian and Palma the Elder.
The Poldi Pezzoli panel is an old copy, rather abraded, of a successful prototype by Bartolomeo Veneto, today in Glasgow (Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, inv. 210) of which at least another six are known. It shows a young woman with her head circled by jasmine, symbol of God's love. On her right is the spiked wheel, instrument of Saint Catherine of Alexandria's martyrdom. Compared to the original, the anonymous artist of this work has simplified the ornamental details in the floral garland or her hair, while maintaining a high level of quality. It is possibly the work of one of Bartolomeo's close followers and the date would not be far from the original in Glasgow, datable to about 1520.