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A reclining woman is carried through the air by a group of winged angels.

In front of a blue sky with white clouds and an ocean surrounded by mountains, a group of five light-skinned, winged angels carries a pale, light-skinned reclining woman through the sky. The group flies toward the right. The angel at the front of the party carries a sword in her right hand and a golden cross with a wreath of white flowers in her left. The woman they carry has her eyes closed and wears a white dress, a pink cloak, and a golden crown. Her head is oriented toward the left, but her face points toward us.

Gallery Text

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.

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
Persistent Link

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


Recorded Ownership History
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

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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.
  • James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., Spring 2000), pp.61-62, repr. p. 62

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
  • 32Q: 2130 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 05/02/2022

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

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Verification Level

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