- Museum number
- Object: St Nicholas surrounded by 14 Scenes from his Life
Icon; painted; in the centre is the half-length figure of St Nicholas, bearded and wearing an ‘omophorion', and holding a closed gospel in his left hand and blessing with his right. To his left and right are two medallions, one containing Christ holding a gospel book, the other the Virgin holding an ‘omophorion'. This panel has been inserted into an earlier frame decorated with 14 scenes from his life. The scenes are, clockwise from top left:
1. The birth of the saint.
2. His first miracle in which he stands for an hour after his birth expounding wisdom.
3. The healing of the woman with a withered arm.
4. St Nicholas in a monastic school.
5. St Nicholas consecrated as a bishop.
6. His appearance to the Emperor Constantine in a dream.
7. His appearance to Evlaphios.
8. St Nicholas rescues a man from the sea.
9. St Nicholas returns Basil to his parents after he had been kidnapped by Arabs.
10. The miracle with a carpet. St Nicholas buys a carpet from an old man and then returns it to his wife.
11. An angel appears to St Nicholas.
12. St Nicholas releases from custody the three generals wrongly accused of treason.
13. The entombment of St Nicholas.
14. The translation of the saint's relics to Bari in Italy.
Egg tempera, silver and gold, gesso on wood.
- Production date
19thC (central insert)
Height: 71.80 centimetres (frame)
Height: 27.30 centimetres (insert)
Thickness: 2.50 centimetres (frame)
Thickness: 2.50 centimetres (insert)
Width: 56 centimetres (frame)
Width: 20 centimetres (insert)
- Curator's comments
- The central icon depicts Nicholas the 4th-century bishop of Myra in traditional pose and costume. The two medallions with Christ and the Virgin Mary refer to the so-called ‘Miracle in Nicaea’ when Nicholas was imprisoned during the course of the Council of Nicaea in 325. According to this miracle, Jesus and Mary appeared in the cell where Nicholas was confined and entrusted to him a gospel and an ‘omophorion’, indicating his status as bishop. Their miraculous appearance was also witnessed by the Council members and he was subsequently released.
The scenes around the icon represent the main episodes and miracles from the saint’s life taken from the texts of Simeon Metaphrastes compiled in the late 10th century. The scenes actually conflate the lives of two separate saints: the Nicholas described above and a Nicholas of Sion, bishop of Pinara in Lycia, who died in 564. The selection of scenes on the Museum’s icon follows the traditional arrangement with the exception of two: his appearance to Evlaphios, and the angel’s appearance before the saint. For similar icons of St Nicholas see: Rybakov 2004, passim; Solovieva 2006, passim.
See also the comments for cat. no. 6.
Temple Gallery 1970, 34–5, no. 24 and 100–1
Cormack 2007, 105, fig. 66 and 115, no. 9
- Not on display
- The centre of the panel is a separate icon which has been inserted into the larger panel at a later date; both icons have ‘kovchegs’; on the reverse four pieces of wood and four corner wedges attach the inset icon to the outer one; the larger icon originally had two inserted battens, the smaller panel has two extant battens; the background paint layer has been scraped down to the gesso; there is a later insertion of the ground on the lower border; the flesh tones of all the faces have been over-cleaned.
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Life of St Nicholas
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: IC 9 (Icon Collection number)