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Portrait of a young woman as Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Piccinelli Andrea called Andrea del Brescianino

(c. 1486 - active in Florence and Siena, first half of the 16th century)

While in the past this portrait was associated with the school of Raphael, today critics attribute it to Andrea Piccinelli, also known as Andrea del Brescianino. In line with other portraits executed by him, this work is characterised by a strong idealisation of the subject’s physiognomy while also betraying that lack of psychological penetration which was typical of the painter.

The presence of a breaking wheel next to the young woman, a typical attribute of St Catherine, is probably an allusion to the name of the subject

Object details

third decade of the 16th century
oil on panel
39 x 28 cm

17th-century frame with cymatium moulding, acanthus frieze and palmettes (cm 59 x 48 x 5,2)



Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 24); purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1905 - Luigi Bartolucci (disinfestazione);
  • 1909 - 10 Luigi Bartolucci, otturazione di alcuni buchi di tarli e ripresa del colore;
  • 1958 - Alvaro Esposti, pulitura di tutto il dipinto, leggera verniciatura;
  • 2002/03 - Andrea Parri (restauro completo della cornice).


The provenance of this work is still unknown. It was first documented as forming part of the Borghese Collection in 1833, when it was described by the compiler of the Inventario Fidecommissario as a work of the school of Raphael. While Adolfo Venturi (1893) connected it to Tuscan circles, in particular to Santi di Tito, Bernard Berenson (1909) was the first to propose the name of Andrea del Bresciano, a view accepted by later critics (Frizzoni 1912; Longhi 1928; De Rinaldis 1948) and more recently by Michele Maccherini (1988) and Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006). Paola della Pergola (1959) likewise had no reservations about publishing it as a work by the painter from Brescia, noting that he used the same model for Venus and two Cupids (inv. no. 324).

The work in question betrays a certain familiarity with the oeuvre of Domenico Beccafumi and Andrea del Sarto and is quite close to the Portrait of a Woman in the Cagnola collection, which Daniela Parenti (1998) dated to the 1520s. Until we have a better understanding of the chronology of Brescianino’s portraits, the proposal for the dating of the Cagnola painting can also be applied to that of the portrait in the Borghese Collection.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 304;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 78;
  • B. Berenson, Florentine Painters, New York 1909, p. 156;
  • G. Frizzoni, Three Little-Noticed Paintings in Rome, in “The Burlington Magazine”, XX, 1912, p. 264;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 185;
  • B. Berenson, Pitture Italiane del Rinascimento, Milano 1936, p. 98;
  • A. De Rinaldis, Catalogo della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1948, p. 52;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1951, p. 29;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p.18, n. 16
  • M. Maccherini, Andrea del Brescianino, in Da Sodoma a Marco Pino: pittori a Siena nella prima metà del Cinquecento, a cura di F. Sricchia Santoro, Firenze 1988; p. 76;
  • M. Maccherini, Andrea del Brescianino (attivo a Siena dal 1506 al 1524); a Firenze nel 1525, in Domenico Beccafumi e il suo tempo, catalogo della mostra (Siena, Palazzo Bindi Sergardi, 1900), Milano 1990, p. 294;
  • D. Pesenti, in La collezione Cagnola, I, I dipinti dal XIII al XIX secolo, a cura di M. Boskovis, G. Fossaluzza, Busto Arsizio 1998, p. 98
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 238;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 34.