Virgin Enthroned with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Biagio (1521) by Pietro Perugino

The artwork “Virgin Enthroned with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Biagio” is a religious painting by Pietro Perugino, created in 1521 during the High Renaissance period. This period is known for its emphasis on harmony, balance, and the integration of precise anatomy, perspective, and attention to detail in art.

In the artwork, three primary figures are depicted in a serene, composed manner characteristic of Renaissance religious works. Central to the composition is the Virgin Mary, seated on a throne, dressed in a voluminous blue robe that drapes around her and cascades down the steps of the throne. She holds the Christ Child, who is rendered with a soft, cherubic quality while He reaches out, possibly in a gesture of blessing.

To the left of the Virgin Mary stands Saint Biagio (also known as Saint Blaise), identifiable by his ecclesiastical attire and the bishop’s crozier he holds—a signifier of his status within the church. Saint Biagio is traditionally invoked by believers for protection against throat illnesses, and the instrument in his other hand is likely a reference to his martyrdom, where he was said to have been tortured with iron combs.

On the right side of the Virgin, Saint Catherine of Alexandria is presented, easy to recognize by the spiked wheel she holds—a symbol of her martyrdom in which she was to be broken on a wheel, though it miraculously broke when she touched it. She is also shown here with a palm branch, another emblem of martyrdom, indicating her unshakable faith and subsequent execution for her beliefs.

A more detailed analysis of the painting would note the geometric composition and the subdued color palette, punctuated with bold blues and reds. The figures are imbued with a sense of grace and dignity. Perugino has masterfully balanced the figures and symbolic elements to create a harmonious and contemplative piece reflective of both his style and the greater High Renaissance movement. The inscription at the bottom of the painting most likely denotes the patron or a commemorative note pertaining to the commission of the artwork.


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