Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saint Nicholas Bishop of Myra

Detail of Titian's painting.
Since we have not quite left Christmastide, it seems that including this painting of Saint Nicholas is not out of place.  Nikolaos was the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (modern-day Turkey) in the fourth century.  He is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker and Nicholas of Bari (since his holy relics are kept at the Cathedral of Bari in Italy).

The image below is a reproduction of the painting by Titian The Madonna of San Niccolo dei Frari, which is housed in the Vatican Museum.  A detail of the painting is adjacent.

Titian painted this in Venice in the year 1528.  Our interest, of course, is the manner in which Titian depicted Saint Nicholas,  which illustrates a Venetian bishop's vestments in the early 16th century.

Saint Nicholas is shewn wearing a flowing albe, which has an apparel on its lower edge (seen below the dalmatic) and on its cuffs.  These apparels are made from the same fabric as the chasuble.  It is very interesting that ornamental apparels continued to be used in Italy at this time (16th century).

Titian depicts Saint Nicholas wearing a full dalmatic beneath the chasuble.  Dalmatic and chasuble are made from the same fabric.  The chasuble is of the Borromeon proportions and is made of a Renaissance-style damask in deep red and interwoven gold ornament.  The vibrant colours of this chasuble are not clearly reproduced in this image.

The chasuble is ornamented with an embroidered orphrey in the TAU form.  The embroideries of saints are only hinted at in Titian's painting.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Titian's Madonna of San Niccolo dei Frari.