Bicci di Lorenzo, St. Nicholas Providing Dowries

Tempera and gold on wood
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 88.3.89, Gift of Coudert Brothers

One of the Metropolitan's two predella panels executed for the monastery of San Niccolo in Cafaggio, Florence, designed after a predella by Gentile da Fabriano of 1425. Both artists picture a beardless young man tossing a golden ball through a barred window on the third night of the story. (Third because the gold from the first two nights is already inside on the bed.) The saint is pictured as a youth because in the Golden Legend the episode occurs soon after the death of his parents and before he is chosen as bishop of Myra.

In the Legend the father is asleep during the third night and is awakened "by the sound of the gold." Thus it is most likely that the father and daughters pictured here are preparing for sleep by removing boots and outer garments.

View Bicci's other panel.
Read more about images of St. Nicholas.

Photographed at the Metropolitan by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.