BARNA DA SIENA
(active in mid-14th century)
The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine1340
Tempera on panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
This is the most beautiful and mysterious of the paintings attributed to Barna da Siena. The design of the painting operates four shifts of scale: from the grand, still figures of Catherine and Christ, to the charming miniaturized scene of the Christ Child standing on the bench between mother and grandmother, to the angels battling with black devils below them, and, tiniest of all, to the embracing warriors who have cast away their swords - probably the joint patrons, whose angelic reconciliation this haunting work commemorates.