Saint Cecilia (1606). Guido Reni (Italian, 1575-1642). Oil on canvas. The Norton Simon Foundation.
Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, was an early Christian martyr. According to legend, she could play any musical instrument and was so exalted she could hear the singing of angels. Here, with eyes toward heaven, she plays a violin; in the background is an organ.
The elegant “Saint Cecilia” exhibits the refined sensibility and pious sentimentality that made Guido Reni the most sought-after Bolognese painter of the 17th century.