Wednesday, November 21, 2018


1560/64 Guidetto Guidetti (about 1498/1564) for Cardinal Federico Cesi patron of the Society of the Miserable and Precarious Virgins
It replaced the former S. Catharina Domne Rosae of the twelfth century, which, in turn, had replaced a three-aisled basilica, S. Maria de Donna Rosa in Castro Aureo
Dedicated to S. Catherine of Alexandria martyr of the fourth century, decapitated after resisting to starvation and the crushing with a toothed wheel
The current name comes from the ropes makers who used to work nearby

From 1543 up to 1611 every 25 November, on the day of St. Catherine, from the adjacent monastery, a procession of miserable and precarious virgins used to begin. They were daughters of courtesans or prostitutes put on display so they could marry with a large dowry
On Sunday a Mass for the Indians speaking Kerala is celebrated

“The undisputed quality of design of Guidetto Guidetti, a yet little-known figure, were chiefly directed to the exterior of his architectural achievements. They are emblematically expressed in this unique façade, where the study of the architectural mass and the accurate ornamentation of the outside contrasts vividly with the interior of the church. In fact, internally the church, despite being characterized by six chapels decorated with frescoes, is presented as a simple and bare room covered by a vault without color effects, communicating a certain severity as a whole to the discerning visitor” (Stefania Quattrone)

“St. Catherine before the Empress” by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)
“St. Margaret” 1599 by Annibale Carracci (1560/1609) for Gabriele Bombasi, autographed replica, with some variations, of the St. Catherine of 1592 for the altarpiece of the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia now in the Louvre

“The strong chiaroscuro that stains the face of the saint, the bright colors of the clothing, the material almost Titianesque of the colors with which are described the landscape and the dragon on the ground, combined with the reprise, in the cyma, of the Correggio fragment detached from the apse of Parma's Cathedral, place this work in a moment of intense relationship with the Lombard-Venetian culture” (Silvia Ginzburg)

“He enlarged the form of pictorial language beyond the strictly devotional limits and reviving the old values of the great Italian tradition. The drawing from life, considered as an essential method of work, the sensitivity to organic form and plastic structure connect in fact Annibale back to the great legacy of mature Renaissance” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

As witnessed by Bellori, Caravaggio stopped to look at this painting for a long time and then said: “I am glad that in my time I see a painter”
In the cyma “Coronation of Mary” designed by Annibale Carracci but executed by one of his pupils, maybe by Innocenzo Tacconi (active in Rome 1607/25)
Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola (1507/73) for the abbot Spanish Philip Ruiz
Above the altar “Deposition” by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92) who also painted the frescoes on the sides and on the vault with “Scenes from the Life of Christ”, “Prophets” and “Saints”
On the pillars on the right “St. Mark” and “Christ carrying the cross”, on the left “St. Luke” and “Ecce homo” 1571 by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609), painted on blackboard
Ottaviano Nonni aka Ottaviano Mascherino (1524/1606)

“The client is identified in the family Solone, named as Soiano in the documents, but that does not appear as the name of any known Roman family. The most reliable interpretation results, probably and simply, from the expression itself by Mascarino '(...) of Solon' (of the big sun), i.e. of the family whose coat of arms is represented by a large beaming sun: the Della Vetera family” (Website of the Conservatorio S. Caterina della Rosa -

On the altar “Assumption” 1598, unfinished masterpiece by Scipione Pulzone (about 1550/98)
Frescoes on the vault and under the arch “Life of the Virgin”, “Marian Symbols” and “Prophets” by Giovanni Zanna aka Pizzica who maybe also painted on the side walls on the right “St. Catherine of Alexandria” and on the left “St. Lucia”

Guidetto Guidetti (about 1498/1564) with changes made in the eighteenth-century
Altar piece “Glory of St. Catherine” by the Sienese Giovanni Sorbi (1695/about 1764)
On the sides “St. Augustine” and “St. Monica” by the Neapolitan Alessandro D'Elia, who also made the bezel “Elevation to the sky of St. Catherine”
Of the original decoration of the sixteenth century remains:
In the vault “Glory of St. Catherine” maybe by Livio Agresti (about 1508/79)
On the right “Martyrdom of St. Catherine” and on the left “Dispute of St. Catherine” 1573 by Federico Zuccari
Monochrome bands on the sides, on the right “Sts. Sisinius and Saturninus” and on the left “Putti” and “Sts. Romanus and Augustine” by Raffaellino Motta aka Raffaellino da Reggio (1550/78)

Above the altar “Stories of St. John the Baptist” 1573 by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79) on slate

“That imperceptible distressing, unsatisfied and unstable feeling that always accompanies crisis caused by the decline of old ideals, pushes another student of Perin del Vaga, Marcello Venusti, to beat a street full of hijackings, looking for new encounters and new experiences (...). His St. John the Baptist is a work that revises themes of Sebastiano del Piombo and Raphael according to meanings of Florentine flavor almost similar to Andrea del Sarto” (Federico Zeri)

“He seemed to have found in the technique of oil painting on slate the best expression of his art. Painter influenced by Northern European painters, in Rome he was under the influence of Sebastiano del Piombo, and, especially, Michelangelo, great friend of his and the godfather of his son” (Website of the Conservatorio S. Caterina della Rosa -

Here there was originally a chancel
On the right wall “Funerary Roman Tombstone”
For the bishop Andrea Canuto whose tombstone is in front of the chapel
Above the altar “Annunciation” copy from original by Marcello Venusti
Basin and arch “Life of the Virgin Mary”, “Prophets”, “David” and “Moses” 1610 by Girolamo Nanni

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