(b. 1472, Firenze, d. 1517, Pian' di Mugnone)

The Marriage of St Catherine of Siena

Wood panel, 257 x 228 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The painting was executed for the Convent of San Marco in Florence. The saints depicted are on the left Catherine, Peter, Lawrence, Stephen, on the right Francis, Dominic, Bartholomew and two Martyrs.

In this picture a massive and strictly speaking classical flavour dominates. Mary, raised on a steep step, is the central figure although the primary subject is the mystical marriage of Christ to Saint Catherine, who is shown kneeling with her back to the viewer. Space is defined by the architecture of the apse, implying that the event is unfolding in a church in the presence of a host of saints. Fra Bartolomeo combines the incidental or narrative aspect of the subject with the idea of a traditional altarpiece.