The Miraculous Translation Of The Body Of Saint Catherine Of Alexandria To Sinai
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Karl von Blaas, Austrian (Nauders, Austria 1815 - 1894 Vienna, Austria)
The Miraculous Translation of the Body of Saint Catherine of Alexandria to Sinai
Other Titles
Former Title: Ascension of St. Catherine
Former Title: St. Catherine Carried by the Angels
Work Type
Level 2, Room 2130, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Pre–Raphaelites and Their Legacy
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
105 x 143 cm (41 5/16 x 56 5/16 in.)
framed: 126.3 x 165 x 9.6 cm (49 3/4 x 64 15/16 x 3 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: C. Blaas 1860
  • exhibition label: back of frame, paper, printed and handwritten: Boston Athenaeum / National Sailors' Fair / [gives title and artist] / Owner's address: Mrs. [ ] E. Thayer / Brookline
  • label: back of frame, black marker on masking tape, handwritten: GROSSMAN 5 ANGELS CARRYING YOUNG GIRL / INTO HEAVEN
Mrs. J. E. Thayer, (1864). [Daniel Grossman Gallery, New York, NY, sold]; to [Seiden and de Cuevas, later Vermeer Associates Limited, sold]; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1992.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Melvin R. Seiden Purchase Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

Label Text: 32Q: 2130 19th Century , written 2014
While in Rome between 1837 and 1842, von Blaas was influenced by the art of the Nazarenes, a group of predominantly German artists who revived early Renaissance styles and religious themes. Several of these artists treated the unusual subject of Saint Catherine’s body being transported to Mount Sinai; the early fourth-century saint is commonly represented with the wheel on which she was tortured. After her martyrdom by the imperial Romans in Alexandria, her body was reputedly carried by angels to a mountaintop in Sinai, near where Moses had received the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. Almost four hundred years later, monks supposedly discovered her uncorrupted body. The nearby monastery named after her, where her remains were preserved, became a pilgrimage destination in the region second only to the holy places of Palestine.

Publication History

Catalogue of paintings and statuary exhibited for the benefit of the National Sailors' fair, exh. cat., Boston Athenaeum (Boston, MA, 1864), No. 282

Friedrich von Boetticher, Malerwerke des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, F. v. Boetticher (Dresden, Germany, 1891 - 1901), p. 104, no. 13

Leon Botstein and Linda Weintraub, ed., Pre-Modern Art of Vienna 1848-1898, exh. cat., Blum Art Institute (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 1987), pp. 141, 154. repr.

Exhibition History

National Sailors' Fair, Boston Athenaeum, Boston, 01/01/1864 - 12/31/1864

Pre-Modern Art of Vienna, 1848-1898, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 05/12/1987 - 07/11/1987; Blum Art Institute, New York, 07/20/1987 - 09/18/1987; DePree Art Center and Gallery, Holland, 10/02/1987 - 11/29/1987; Bass Museum, Miami Beach, 12/15/1987 - 01/31/1988

Sublimations: Art and Sensuality in the 19th Century, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/13/1996 - 07/21/2002

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

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Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted