St Catherine of Alexandria


St Catherine of Alexandria

Strasbourg, ca. 1500
Carved and painted limewood
height 127.5 cm, width 39.5 cm, depth 39 cm
Inv. 1977.240.

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Together with St Maurice, St Barbara and a saintly pope, and with the Madonna in the centre, this statue of the youthful princess Catherine formed part of the high altar of the St. Mauritiuskirche in Kippenheim near Offenburg. The fate of this Late Gothic altarpiece, the figures of which are dispersed in four locations (Basle, Breisach, New York, Kippenheim), is typical of many such ecclesiastical sculptures preserved in museums. In this case the altarpiece was replaced by a more modern one in 1714-15 and so lost its liturgical function; it was being stored in the attic of the priest's house in 1872, when permission was granted for its dismemberment; it was sold in 1874, then again for IODM in 1902-03; in 1990 its original location was identified. It can be assumed that the figure originated from an important workshop in Strasbourg around 1500. In its forceful, fluent drapery it shows reminiscences of the Upper Rhine style of around 1460; the deeply undercut folds and the voluptuous face surrounded by flowing hair are highly characteristic elements.