Retable of Saint Nicholas

Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy
1479 - 1505
110 cm x 98.7 cm
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Saints
Religious scenes
Retables Polyptychs

The tableau shows the enthroned Saint Nicholas with representations from his life on both sides of him. He is depicted monumentally in the middle panel and is clothed in a richly ornamented garment with the bishop’s staff in his hand. In the background, the city of Bruges is visible. Upper left on the panels, it is depicted how Nicholas provides the dowry for three daughters of an impoverished nobleman. Below this is depicted how Nicholas had grain distributed in order to end a famine. On the right panel is the history of student priests. In the uppermost scene, the students are murdered by the innkeeper who wants to pickle their flesh. On the lower panel, that unfortunately is missing, the student priests are resurrected from the dead by Nicholas.
A tableau such as this, in which a middle panel is flanked by small narrative representations, makes one think of the Spanish tableaux. It is then possible that the Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy made this tableau for a Spanish patron. The tableau is at a yet unknown time dismantled. In 2008, the three narrative representations were acquired by the Flemish community and are in long-term loan at the Groeninge Museum. The fourth narrative representation has not yet been recovered.