Master Paintings Part II

Master Paintings Part II

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 418. Self-Portrait of the Artist as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Barbara Longhi

Self-Portrait of the Artist as Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Auction Closed

February 1, 09:24 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 USD

Lot Details


Barbara Longhi

Ravenna 1552 - 1638

Self-Portrait of the Artist as Saint Catherine of Alexandria

oil on panel

panel: 13 ½ by 11 ¼ in.; 34.3 by 28.6 cm.

framed: 16 ½ by 14 ⅜ in.; 41.9 by 36.5 cm.

Marchese Massimiliano Strozzi Sacrati, Palazzo Strozzi Sacrati, Ferrara, by 1850 (inv. no. 25, as Luca Longhi);

Thence by descent and inheritance in the family to Uberto Strozzi Sacrati, Palazzo Strozzi Sacrati, Ferrara, until at least 1983 (inv. no. 2735, as Luca Longhi, in the "Salotto verde");

Anonymous sale, Vienna, Dorotheum, 10 December 2014, lot 140 (as Emilian School, 16th century);

Anonymous sale, Prato, Farsetti, 29 October 2021, lot 69 (as Luca Longhi);

Where acquired by the present owner.

A. Cappi, Luca Longhi, Ravenna 1853, p. 166;

G. Viroli, I Longhi, Luca, Francesco, Barbara, pittori ravennati (sex. XVI-XVII), Ravenna 2000, pp. 226-227, cat. no. 162 (under lost works cited in archival sources);

G. Marcolini, La Collezione Sacrati Strozzi, I dipinti restituiti a Ferrara, Milan 2005, pp. 207

S. Simoni, "Ritratti e autoritratti del Cinquecento ravennate, Barbara Longhi e la donna artista," in Romagna Arte e Storia 92-93 (2011), p. 17 note 37;

L. De Girolami Cheney, Barbara Longhi of Ravenna: Art, Grace and Piety, Newcastle upon Tyne 2023, pp. 139, 143, reproduced fig. 93.

This engaging image of Saint Catherine, holding a martyr’s palm and resting her arm across the spiked wheel of her martyrdom, is by Barbara Longhi, who, with her father Luca and brother Francesco, operated Ravenna’s preeminent painting studio. The work belongs to a group of related pictures of similar, but not identical, compositions and sizes.1 The apparent popularity of the image is not surprising, as it would have been considered appropriate as an exemplum virtutis for the young women of aristocratic families in Ravenna. Some of the paintings have in the past been attributed to Barbara Longhi’s father, including the present work, which bore a false signature “LVCA L” (in ligature), removed in a recent cleaning.

This painting was first recorded in an 1850 inventory of the collection of Marchese Massimiliano Strozzi Sacrati as a work by Luca Longhi: “25 Lucca Longhi… Santa Caterina colla palma del martirio ½ figura.” Massimiliano Strozzi Sacrati had inherited a number of paintings and in July of 1850 acquired a large collection from the dealer Ubaldo Sgherbi, thereby amassing a gallery of over 400 pictures. At Strozzi Sacrati’s death, the paintings were inherited by a nephew of the Mantuan branch of the family, whence it descended until the 1980s. In a 1983 inventory of the collection’s remains the painting was again recorded as “Luca Longhi, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, olio Strotz tela, cm. 35 x 29, cornice secolo XIX, citato con questa attribuzione negli inventari della famiglia.” The painting was then sold at auction at the Dorotheum in 2014 as Emilian School, 16th Century (although a salesroom notice connected the painting to a version of the composition by Barbara Longhi at the Pinacoteca Comunale, Ravenna), and then again in 2021 as a work by Luca Longhi.

In an unpublished dossier on the painting, Raffaella Zama confirmed the attribution of the painting to Barbara Longhi and noted that ultimately it appears to derive from a large mural painting of the Wedding at Cana, painted by the Longhi family for the Camaldolese monastery in Ravenna (now the Biblioteca Classense), where the portraits of Luca, Francesco, and at the right foreground Barbara are included (see fig. 1). Based on this, it seems likely that the artist used her self-portrait as the foundation for her depiction of Saint Catherine.


1 Examples are found in various museums, including two in the Pinacoteca Comunale, Ferrara; the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; National Museum of Art, Bucharest; and the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, in addition to others in private collections.