- Museum number
- Object: St Nicholas of Mozhaisk surrounded by 14 Scenes from his Life
Icon; painted; in the centre stands the nimbed and bearded figure of St Nicholas, wearing an 'omophorion', and holding a sword in his right hand and a model of the town of Mozhaisk in his left. He is depicted against a light blue-green sky with clouds, all enclosed by a red frame. The saint is surrounded with 14 scenes from his life and miracles depicted against a gold background. The scenes are clockwise from top left:
1. The Nativity of St Nicholas.
2. The miracle of St Nicholas standing in a baptismal font.
3. The miracle of St Nicholas healing a woman with a crippled hand.
4. St Nicholas brought into monastic school.
5. St Nicholas consecrated deacon.
6. St Nicholas consecrated bishop.
7. St Nicholas consecrated archbishop.
8. St Nicholas sends the devils out of a tree.
9. St Nicholas appears to the Emperor Constantine in a dream.
10. St Nicholas saves a drowning youth Dimitri.
11. St Nicholas saves three generals sentenced to death.
12. St Nicholas saves Basil, son of Agricos, from Saracen captivity and brings him home to his parents.
13. The relics of the saint are carried from Myra to Bari.
14. The Entombment of St Nicholas.
Inscriptions: in red in largely obscured Church Slavonic flanking the central figure of St Nicholas: СТЬІЙ НИКОЛАЕ УУДОТВОРЕЦ (St Nicholas the Wonder-Worker); reading clockwise from left to right: above the 5th scene: ПОСТАВЛЄНИЄ СВЯТАГО НИКОЛЫ УЮД(ТВОРЦА) ВО ДИАКОНЫ (St Nicholas the Wonder-Worker is consecrated deacon); above the 6th scene: …ПОСТАВЛЕНИЕ В ЕПИСКОПЫ (…is consecrated bishop); above the 7th scene: ПОСТАВЛЄИЄ СВЯТAГО НИКОЛЫ УУДОТВОРЦА В АРХИЕПИСОПЫ (St Nicholas the Wonder-Worker is consecrated archbishop); above the 8th scene: СВЯТОЙ НИКОЛА… ИЗГОНЯЕТ ИЗ ДРЕВА БЕСЫ (St Nicholas…sends the devils out of a tree); above the 9th scene: a corrupted inscription; above the 10th scene: СВЯТОЙ НИКОЛА СПАСАЕТ ЮНОШУ ОТ ПОТОПЛЕНИЯ…. (St Nicholas saves a drowning youth…); above the 11th scene: …ВОЕВОД ОТ ПОCЕЧЕНИЯ…(…saves three men (commanders) from a sword); above the 12th scene: …ИЗБАВН ОТ САРАЦИН (…saves from a Saracen); above the 13th scene: ПЕРЕНЕСНИЕ… СВЯТАГО НИКОЛЫ… (Transferring… St Nicholas…); and finally, above the 14th scene: a further corrupted inscription.
Egg tempera, gold and gesso on wood.
- Production date
Height: 91.50 centimetres
Thickness: 3.40 centimetres
Width: 77.90 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- There are three main iconographic types of St Nicholas known in Russian icon painting from the 13th–14th centuries onwards: ‘Nickola Myrlikijskij’, ‘Nickola Zarajskij’ and ‘Nickola Mozhajskij’. The latter type in which the saint is depicted holding a sword and a model of the town of Mozhaisk first appears in the 14th century and becomes popular in the icon painting of the Moscow area. According to legend in 1302 Mozhaisk was under siege by the Tatars who were trying to starve the inhabitants out. The townspeople gathered in the cathedral to appeal to St Nicholas for help. The saint subsequently materialized above the church holding a sword and a model of the church. His apparition caused the enemy to flee and this event was celebrated in the icon.
The scenes on the Museum’s icon can be closely compared to those on a 16th-century icon of St Nicholas of Mozhaisk from the Likhachev collection in the Russian Museum in St Petersburg (Vilinbahova et al. 1993, no. 381). Both icons share similar scenes and the colour of the frame around the central image of the saint.
Temple Gallery 1966, no. 19, pl. IV
Cormack 2007, 118, no. 21
- Not on display
- Made from a single panel with ‘kovcheg’; two inserted battens and eleven wedges secure three vertical cracks on the reverse. Areas of restoration include the gilding, parts of the architectural background and the saint’s light blue robe; there are losses of gesso and damaged areas along the edges of the icon. Some of the inscriptions have been reconstructed during the course of restoration in the 19th or 20th centuries.
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Scenes from the Life of St Nicholas
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: IC 21 (Icon Collection number)