Lot 106
  • 106

BARNABA DA MODENA | Saint Nicholas of Bari

60,000 - 80,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Saint Nicholas of Bari
  • tempera on poplar panel, gold ground
  • 13 by 10 in.; 33 by 25.5 cm.


Private collection, Belgium.

Catalogue Note

This panel is an important addition to the œuvre of Barnaba da Modena, one of the most significant artists working in Northern Italy in the second half of the 14th century. Born and trained in Emilia Romagna, Barnaba is first documented in Genoa in 1361-62, hiring assistants for his large and successful workshop, which dominated the artistic scene in the city at this time. His influence was also strongly felt in Pisa, where he worked in the late 1370s and 1380s. The present work most probably dates to this latter period, the soft modelling and fine features of Saint Nicholas reflective of Tuscan painting, in contrast to Barnaba’s earlier productions, which are characterized by a more Byzantine sensibility. This panel, in which the wood grain runs horizontally, was most likely part of a horizontal framing element of a large polyptych, possibly a pinnacle. Such a formation is found in the artist’s polyptych for the cathedral in Murcia, with four half-length figures of saints in pinnacles above panels depicting scenes from the life of Saint Lucy. Barnaba’s other polyptych sent to the Manuel chapel in Murcia is also pertinent as a point of comparison in the analogous half-length figure of Saint Nicholas, which forms one of the flanking panels around the Madonna and Child in the center.1 It has been suggested that the present panel may have constituted one of the pinnacles atop Barnaba’s polyptych intended for the church of Sant’Andrea e Lucia in Ripoli di Lari.

We are grateful to Dr. Laurence Kanter for confirming the panel's attribution to Barnaba da Modena and suggesting its function as a framing element after firsthand inspection.

1. For both polyptychs, see J. Sander, Italienische Gemälde im Städel 1300-1550. Oberitalien, die Marken und Rom, Mainz am Rhein and Frankfurt am Main 2004, p. 14, reproduced p. 15, fig. 12.