Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 39

The distinctively northern cathedral reappears in the backgrounds
of all three paintings. The Marriage of Saint Catherine can be dated
later than the Ca’ d’Oro and New York pictures, as the dynamically
twisted, contrapposto figure of the Infant reflects a familiarity with
the mature Raphael and Leonardo, while the New York painting
bears a greater affinity to the work of Bellini and Perugino. While
these differences reflect the evolution of Bernardino’s individual
style in the years after 1510, the facial types of the Madonna in all
three pictures show strong morphological similarities. The chubby
legs and upturned nose of the Christ Child recur in the New
York panel. Also characteristic of the artist is the almost obsessive
interest in symmetry and pattern. The swag of curtains behind the
heads of Saint Catherine and the Virgin is comparable to that in
the canopy above the Virgin in the New York painting.
The legend of the early Christian martyr Catherine of Alexandria,
recorded in the anonymous eleventh-century Passio, relates that
the Emperor Maxentius sentenced the saint to death on a spiked
wheel, an attribute central to her traditional iconography, yet here
Fig. 1.1 Raphael, Bridgewater Madonna, ca. 1507,
oil on canvas transferred from panel, 81 x 55 cm,
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland.
depicted as little more than a minor detail. Zaganelli’s narrative
focuses instead on another aspect of the legend, namely Catherine’s
Mystic Marriage to the Infant Christ, which is recounted in the
hagiographic treatise Conversio. The scene represents the Infant
Stylistically the painting draws upon an eclectic mix of sources.
Christ placing a ring on the saint’s right middle finger, as opposed
The horizontal format recalls Venetian models of the late fifteenth
to the more customary fourth finger. This iconography, addressing
century (also used in Bernardino’s Sacra Conversazione, Baltimore,
the theme of mystic communion, was especially favoured by young
Walters Art Gallery), and the subject enjoyed widespread popularity
members of the aristocracy taking ecclesiastical vows, although
in the Serenissima. The influence of Raphael is evident in the grace
it also symbolizes the sacred vow of marriage, celebrated and
and tenderness of the figures; this artist’s style was disseminated
blessed by the Church.
in Romagna through the circulation of drawings, copies, and
prints. The positions of figures in particular recall Raphael’s
Fig. 1.2 Bernardino Zaganelli, Madonna and Child with two Musician Angels,
oil on panel, 165 x 103 cm, Venice, Galleria G. Franchetti, Ca’ D’Oro.
Essentially an allegory of spiritual communion between
Madonna Conestabile, (1504; Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum)
worshipper and the divine, the subject of Saint Catherine’s Mystic
and the Bridgewater Madonna (1507; Edinburgh, National Gallery
Marriage was not included in Jacopo da Voragine’s Legenda Aurea.
of Scotland) (fig. 1.1) in the dynamic, diagonal movement of the
Nevertheless, printed texts such as Frater Petrus’ Nova legenda
Infant. Alongside, the impact of Raphael’s pictorial language,
The present work displays a Quattrocento-esque attention to
sanctae Catherinae, published in Strasbourg in 1500, demonstrate
influences from north of the Alps are discernable in the fantastical
detail, also redolent of northern art. Precious stones, transparent
that the mystical subject held special importance for Franciscans,
Gothic cathedral in the background. Furthermore, the artist
veils, gold embroidery and highlights in the hair are all rendered
an order to which the artist had close ties. The present composition
responds to the work of Dürer. The latter’s Madonna del Patrocinio
with great delicacy. In this regard the painting can be compared
may be influenced by contemporary devotional texts, but visually
(before 1505; Parma, Fondazione Maganani Traversetolo) probably
to the Madonna and Child with two Musician Angels in the Ca’ d’Oro
its late-Gothic symmetry and Flemish sensitivity reveal how the
arrived in Romagna during Durer’s Italian sojourn between 1505-
(before 1510; fig. 1.2) and the Madonna and Child with two Angels in a
artist’s engagement with northern and Italian models yielded
1507. The facial features of Zaganelli’s Madonna, with her broad
New York private collection (after 1510; fig. 1.3). All three works
original and eccentric works.
countenance and lowered gaze, as well as the angular folds of the
display a predilection for rich fabrics and meticulously described
saint’s sleeve, echo aspects of Dürer’s painting.
jewels depicted with saturated greens, reds and blues.
R affaella Z ama
Fig. 1.3 Bernardino Zaganelli, Madonna and Child with two Angels,
oil on panel, 91 x 47 cm, New York, Private Collection.
For the biography of the artists, see Raffaella Zama, Gli Zaganelli (Rimini: Luisé,
1994). See also the following recent studies: Andrea de Marchi in Marco Palmezzano.
Il Rinascimento nelle Romagne, eds. Antonio Paolucci, Luciana Prati, and Stefano
Tumidei, exh. cat. (Forlì: Musei San Domenico, 2005), pp. 276-279; Andrei
Bliznukov, “Appunti su Bernardino Zaganelli,” Arte Cristiana 868 (2012): pp. 14-18;
and Sonia Chiodo and Serena Padovani, The Alana Collection, Newark, Delaware, USA,
Italian Paintings from the 14th to 16th century (Florence: Mandragora, 2014), pp. 41-48.
In the Chiesa del Carmine, Pavia, signed 1507.
See Stacey Erin Kaplan, “Marriage, Motherhood, and St. Catherine of
Alexandria: Painting Domestic Values in the Veneto,” (PhD diss., Cornell
University, 2003). Given its role as a primary centre for the production, distribution
and trade of printed books, Venice also contributed to the dissemination of the
Legend of Saint Catherine. See, for instance, Baptista Mantuanus, Parthenice secunda,
sive Catharinaria (Venice: Jacobus Pentius de Leuco, 1499).
The figure of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is richly ornamented with jewels as
befitting her status as a princess. The composition is re-elaborated in a rediscovered
Virgin and Child with Mary Magdalene. See Raffaella Zama in Daniele Benati, Quadri
da stanza. Dipinti emiliani dal XVI al XIX secolo (Bologna: Fondatico, 2014).
Exhibited in Paolucci, Prati, and Tumidei, Marco Palmezzano, no. 35.


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