St Nicholas of Bari banishing the Storm by Bicci di Lorenzo (1373–1452)
Caught in a storm, with ragged sails blowing in the wind, the crew and passengers of this struggling ship frantically throw chests and bales overboard to lighten the load. They pray to St Nicholas, who banishes the black storm clouds and reveals the clear star-sprinkled sky.
His flying pose is echoed in reverse by a mermaid who speeds away to the left. She evokes the dangers of the sea and the pagan creatures that Christianity had defeated.
This colourful scene was once grouped with other panels depicting the life and miracles of St Nicholas. These stories formed the 'predella', or lower section of an altarpiece, with the Virgin and Child with angels and pairs of saints. The altarpiece stood in the church of San Niccolò that once stood in Cafaggio, Florence.
St Nicholas of Bari banishing the Storm
Bicci di Lorenzo (1373–1452)
Tempera and gold on panel
29 x 59 cm