oil on copper plate dimensions 24.5 x 18.5 cm frame 30.5 x 24.5 cm
Provenance: A Swedish private collection.
Essay: This small Flemish painting, measuring only 24.5 x 18.5 cm and executed on a copper plate, depicts Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. Created in the 17th century, the artist remains unknown. The composition presents Saint Nicholas in full figure within a divided landscape, providing depth to the scene. The color palette consists of blues, yellows, and greens, with glimpses of ancient buildings in the background.
Saint Nicholas of Tolentino is portrayed wearing a black priest's cape adorned with embroidered gold stars. In his left hand, he holds a plate with a bird on its rim, while his right hand rests on his chest. His cheerful smile suggests his contentment in the depicted environment.
The symbolism of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino lies in his association with a variety of virtues and attributes. As the patron saint of animals, he is often depicted with birds or other creatures. The presence of the bird on the plate signifies his gentle nature and connection to the natural world. Additionally, Saint Nicholas is known for his piety and acts of charity, symbolized by his priestly attire.
The landscape division in the painting serves to emphasize the spiritual significance of Saint Nicholas' presence. The background featuring ancient buildings hints at the continuity of faith and the lasting impact of the saint's teachings.
This Flemish artwork invites contemplation of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino's legacy and the values he embodied. The skillful execution on a copper plate showcases the technical prowess of the unknown artist, who has successfully captured the saint's joy and harmonious connection with the surrounding environment.
Despite the artist's anonymity, this captivating painting stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of Flemish art and the ability to convey profound spiritual themes through the masterful use of color, composition, and symbolism.
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