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The Roman Catholic Elizabeth Panton is shown as St Catherine, who was martyred for refusing to give up her faith. She holds a martyr’s palm and the spiked wheel on which, according to legend, the saint was killed. The artist, Benedetto Gennari, was born and trained in Italy, but settled in England in his early forties. He painted religious images for the Catholic queens of both Charles II and James II. After James was deposed in 1688, Gennari joined his court-in-exile near Paris. This was where he painted Elizabeth, who later married into a leading English Catholic family.

February 2010