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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is considered the founder of realism in painting. After him, not a single sketch or drawing remained - Caravaggio immediately embodied all his ideas on canvas. The artist's life was very peculiar. Distinguished by a bold and quick-tempered disposition, he constantly fell into some dark stories, was the instigator of fights, several times went to prison, was twice accused of murder. In the artist's work, male portraits and genre scenes with the participation of men occupy a dominant place. Most often, the characters of Caravaggio are simple youths from the crowd, bright, sensual, cheerful and partly rude. That was the author himself.
The painting St. Catherine of Alexandria is a rare single portrait of a woman for the painter - though, Catherine still resembles a boy with facial features. Catherine of Alexandria was the daughter of the ruler of Alexandria Xanthos. The princess was very moody, rejecting all potential suitors. Alexandria in those years was known as one of the most enlightened cities, famous for its huge library and excellent schools. Therefore, Catherine received an excellent education. Having become a queen, she converted to Christianity. In a dream, Christ appeared to her and presented a ring; since that time she considered herself the bride of Christ. When Emperor Maximin arrived in Alexandria to perform sacrifices and rituals according to pagan custom, Catherine burst into the temple and demanded that the emperor leave the pagan gods and convert to Christianity. Subsequently, she was brutally executed and elevated to the rank of saints.
In the picture we see a very young girl in a white blouse embroidered with gold and a dark velvet dress. Brown hair is parted and styled. A soft half-childish face, full lips, neat lips, dark guarded eyes - if not for the thin golden halo above her head, the image would be a portrait of an ordinary girl.