Depictions of saints being martyred were frequent in neo-Hispanic art and various painters included them in their repertoires. Such was the case of Hipólito de Rioja, a brother-in-law of the painter Baltasar de Echave Ibía, who was active in the mid-XVIIth century. Given the similarities of format and composition between The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence and the Martyrdom of Saint Catherine, it seems probable that the two works formed part of a series. In the first of these, at the center of the composition, we see the figure of the Spanish-born saint, who is seated on a red-hot grill. History has it that Lawrence himself asked his executioners to turn his body around so that the back part would also be burned, which is why he is depicted lying face-upward in most paintings. A large number of people, ranged around the martyr, are witnessing the scene, each one engaged in a different activity, but always intent on the sufferings of the saint. The artist disposed these characters in a circle, thus endowing his composition with more movement. The chiaroscuro work is obvious, especially in the lit-up parts of the scene which show the naked body of the saint and the figure of the angel amidst a burst of glory. The latter is bearing the palm frond of martyrdom to offer to the saint and his posture makes a visual dialogue between the two figures possible, as if he were a savior offering heaven to the suffering man. The burst of glory is also circular in form, with a large number of angels on the outer edges, thus balancing the composition. The painting of Saint Catherine of Alexandria also depicts the precise moment when divine intervention helps the martyr to bear her tribulations. Catherine was sentenced to be beheaded after her body had been affixed to a wheel, which broke just as her torments began. In this piece, in which Hipólito de Rioja also opted to use chiaroscuro, the contrasts in the lighting are important and focus our attention on the upper part of the canvas and on the figure of the saint. Spatially, the artist divided the composition into two realms —the earthly one occupied by the executioners and the scared crowd in flight, and the heavenly one, where Jesus enters in a burst of glory, bearing a red banner symbolizing the Resurrection. Likewise, he is holding a palm frond and a crown to be presented to the saint. It is worth noting that the division between the two spaces is linked by an angel who descends to earth from the heavens to gesture, with his right arm, towards the path to salvation that Saint Catherine, who is looking heavenward, must follow. Both paintings are tours de forcé that show off the painter s Mannerist style and depict the most dramatic incidents from the lives of the saints. The expressive force inherent in the characters, the use of light, the spatial distribution and shape of the figures, and the geometrical framing endow these canvases with dynamism. Both these works originally hung in the San Diego Viceregal Painting Gallery, entering the MUNAL in the year 2000.