Mariotto di Nardo, St. Nicholas Saves Three Men from Execution
Tempera and gold on wood panel
Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome, Italy
The painting presents the moment narrated in the Golden Legend just as the three princes are to be executed:
And when they were come where they should be beheaded, he [Nicholas] found them on their knees, and blindfold, and the righter executioner brandished his sword over their heads. Then St. Nicholas, embraced with the love of God, set him hardily against the righter, and took the sword out of his hand….
Except for adding bystanders and not dressing the three men as princes, the image follows the Golden Legend quite closely, with the executioner raising his sword just above the men's heads and Nicholas grabbing it with both hands. The unspecified port city on the Adriatic is shown in the background, with its gates closed as in the legend.
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Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.