Bartolo, Taddeo di
Saint Catherine of Alexandria
These two panels, along with two others in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, were originally side panels of a large altarpiece. On the left is an unidentified bishop. He wears the bishop’s miter, holds a book and two figures offered in benediction (or forgiveness) as he would gesture in the mass. On the right is St. Catherine. She is the patron saint of learning and wisdom. Famed for her debating skills, St. Catherine succeeded in besting fifty philosophers sent to test her intellect.
Di Bartolo was the son of a barber. He began as a painter of choir stalls and in time became one of Siena’s more prominent artists and was commissioned to work in various Italian cities. The distinctly thoughtful, almond-shaped eyes and remarkably individualized facial features using a wide range of tones are characteristic of his style.