Portrait of a Lady as St. Catherine of Alexandria
(Domenico Puligo)


This unpublished panel is a characteristic work by Puligo, a gifted pupil of Andrea del Sarto who by the time of his relatively early death in 1527 had built up one of the most successful portrait practices in Florence. To the twenty-five portraits, all on panel, listed by Elena Capretti and Serena Padovani (in the exhibition catalogue Domenico Puligo (1492-1527), Un protagonista dimenticato della pittura fiorentina, Florence, 2002) can be added this female portrait, another in a Scottish private collection, and a third at Haddo House (the National Trust for Scotland). A number of those in British collections were formerly attributed to Andrea del Sarto, in whose workshop Puligo completed his training and whose technique he clearly studied very closely. Many of the Puligo’s portraits are of larger half-length format, and one of these, the Barbarina Fiorentina, the programme of which was devised by the historian Niccolò Macchiavelli, is of considerable iconographic complexity. This example is one of a few in which the sitter is given the attribute of a saint whose name she presumably bore: two of ladies as the Magdalen (Maria Maddalena was a popular name in Florence) are known at Ottawa and, formerly, in the Kisters Collection (Capretti and Padovani, nos. 41 and 66); one of a lady as Saint Barbara is at Saint Petersburg (Hermitage, no. 1477, op. cit., no. 50). That no other portrait by the artist includes the attribute of Saint Catherine of Alexandria strengthens the probability that this pane is that recorded in the Amadeo dal Pozzo inventory of 1634, as Burton Fredricksen suggested to the complier in 1997.

76.8 x 55.2 cm
Oil on panel

Presumably Amadeo dal Pozzo, inventory of 1634, ‘Un ritratto d’una Gentildona accomodata per una S. Catterina in mano di Domenco Puligo fiorentino. Sopra l’asso, coetaneo d’Andrea del Sarto, longo poco piu d’un raso largo tre quarti cornise dorata’.
Probably purchased by the grandfather of one of the vendors in Berwickshire, before 1920, and by inheritance.

Where is It?
National Gallery of Western Art, Tokyo
Historical Period
High Renaissance to Mannerism - 1450-1530 & Mannerism & Cinquecento - 1530-1600
Italian - Tuscan
Price band
Sold or not available