Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

1656
Artist
Diego de Borgraf, Flemish, 1618-1686
Born: Antwerp, Belgium
Work Locations: Mexico
Locale
Puebla, Mexico
Country
Mexico
Style/Tradition
Mexican Colonial
painting
Oil paint on canvas.
Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer
2011.426

Diego de Borgraf, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1656. Oil paint on canvas; 65¾ 45¾ in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2011.426.

This object is currently on view
Dimensions
stretcher height: 65.75 in, 167.0050 cm; stretcher width: 45.75 in, 116.2050 cm; frame height: 78 3/4 in, 200.0250 cm; frame width: 58 3/4 in, 149.2250 cm; frame depth: 3 1/4 in, 8.2550 cm
Inscription
"Diego Borgraf, Farcit 1656", bottom right
Department
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Collection
Latin American Art

Diego de Borgraf (1618-86) was born in Antwerp (Belguim) and worked in the Spanish court in the time of Diego Velázquez before emigrating to Puebla (Mexico) in 1640 with Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza. Upon his arrival in Mexico, Borgraf took on apprentices and trained other artists in painting techniques. He signed this painting "Diego de Borgraf Fecit 1656" in the bottom right corner of the canvas.
     Here Borgraf paints St. Catherine of Alexandria (Egypt) as a wealthy woman adorned with luxurious fabrics and elaborate jewelry. According to legend, Catherine was an educated and influential woman who converted to Christianity and then tried to convince the Roman emperor Maximin II (280-308 A.D.) to stop persecuting Christians. Catherine’s success in converting others to Christianity caused her to be flogged and imprisoned. Eventually the emperor ordered her to be torn apart between two wheels fitted with blades but the torture device was miraculously destroyed, a scene depicted in the right background of the painting. Catherine leans on the broken wheel while looking heavenward and being crowned with flowers by angels. The overall blue quality of the landscape and detailed depiction of sumptuous fabrics and jewelry are a nod to Borgraf’s Flemish origins.
— Julie Wilson Frick, 2015

Known Provenance
Gifted 29 December 2011 by the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • "Splendors of the Golden Age," Epcot Center, Walt Disney World, November 1985 - January 1990
  • Exhibited "Splendors of Baroque Mexico," Denver Art Museum, December 1, 1985 - January 27, 1986
  • "Splendors of the Golden Age: Three Centuries of Spanish Colonial Art," Walt Disney World Epcot Center, 1987.
  • "Painting a New World: Mexican Art and Life 1521 - 1821, " Denver Art Museum, April 3 - July 25, 2004
  • "The Arts In Latin America, 1492-1820," 5 August - October 28, 2007, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA.