Pietro degli Ingannati - inv. 3493
The young woman depicted in this panel turns sideways and with her right hand holds the martyr’s palm and a fragment of spiked wheel, the attributes of Saint Catherine. It is undoubtedly a portrait: the painter attentively investigates the young woman’s physiognomy, emphasising its characteristic traits, such as the fleshy mouth, tip-tilted nose and large clear eyes. Furthermore, analysis of the painting has revealed that the panel is not part of a larger composition, but an autonomous work.
Portraying women dressed as saints was quite common in Venetian painting of the 16th century and was very successful also in subsequent centuries; there is another painting of this type in the Museum (Copy by Bartolomeo Veneto, inv. 3511). The artist attributed to this work, Pietro degli Ingannati, was a good painter: his style recalls that of Palma the Elder and the late Giovanni Bellini. The image corresponds to the canons of Venetian portrait painting of the first half of the 16th century, with the half-figure, a hand in the foreground and face turned three-quarters against a dark background. In the work in question, even if it looks worn and partly repainted over the dress, one can appreciate the quality of the painting in the chiaroscuro that softly models the face and gives volume to the image.