Saint Catherine kneels on a ramp of steps, at the top of which are seated the Madonna and Child. With both hands, the Child reaches forward to place a ring on Saint Catherine's finger, symbolizing her spiritual engagement to God. An angel in the bottom right corner holds Saint Catherine's attributes of a wheel and a martyr's crown. To the left, an elderly doge kneels between Saints Mark and Francis. Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice, is accompanied by his identifying attribute, the lion, also a symbol of the city. Behind the figures, beneath a dramatic sky, sailing ships move across a hazy cityscape.
Schiavone's sheet is a highly finished compositional study for a painting formerly in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, but destroyed by a fire in 1574. Francesco Donato, the doge depicted in the drawing commissioned the painting. Inspired by a painting by Titian, Schiavone used the staircase to develop a dynamic diagonal flow of action. The strong verticals of the canopy and architecture behind the figures balance the composition. Freely applied highlights in white gouache and brown ink animate the scene.