ORSI, Lelio
(b. 1511, Novellara, d. 1587, Novellara)

Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria

Oil on canvas, 88 x 67 cm
Galleria Estense, Modena

This painting, whose size suggests it was made for private devotion, is one of Lelio Orsi's mature works. The painting is dated to the period following the painter's stay in Rome (1554-55), not least because of Michelangelo's obvious influence discernible in the sculptural modelling of the bodies of the torturers, the agitated rhythm of their movements, and particularly the distorted postures of the figures falling through the floor at the sudden breaking of the wheel, which betray an inspiration drawn from the damned of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.