Saint Nicholas of Zaraysk with 20 scenes from his life

  • Artists:

    • Uidentifisert, Novgorod-skolen (Artist - uncertain)
    • Ukjent kunstner (Artist - uncertain)
  • Creation date: Første halvdel av 1500-tallet, med tilføyelser fra 1800-tallet
  • Object type: Icon


A bishop saint in his liturgical garments is the main subject of this icon from the Russian Middle Ages. In his left hand he holds a Gospel Book, and with his right hand he makes a traditional gesture of blessing with two extended fingers. Two small sections next to his head depict Christ with a book and the Virgin Mary holding a pallium in her arms. The Russian inscription on each side of the saint’s head indicates that the person is Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, one of the most popular saints in the Russian Orthodox Church. He was in particular the patron saint of travellers, sailors, and children. Twenty small pictures adorning the edges of the icon depict the bishop’s life, miracles, and death. His birth is shown in the upper left, while his death and burial are shown at the bottom.

The style is typical of Russian icons, which were painted in a simplified, surface-based style that originated in the medieval Byzantine Empire. In Novgorod, a large and powerful Russian centre of trade not far from today’s St Petersburg, a distinctive iconographic style influenced by local folk art evolved during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The icon painters from Novgorod typically used clear and pure colours, narrative elements, expressive lines, and contrasting monochromatic fields.

This icon, regarded as a principal work of the Novgorod school, was purchased in Russia by the Norwegian businessman and icon collector Richard Zeiner-Henriksen (1878–1965). It was later donated to the museum by the Friends of the National Gallery.

Text: Frithjof Bringager

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0

Work info

Creation date:
Første halvdel av 1500-tallet, med tilføyelser fra 1800-tallet
Other titles:
Den hellige Nikolas fra Zarajsk med scener fra hans liv (NOR)
Hl. Nikolaus von Zarajsk mit 20 Szenen aus seinem Leben (GER)
Nicolaus fra Myra (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Tempera på treplate
  • Height: 118.3 cm
  • Depth: 14.5 cm
  • Width: 97.5 cm
Gave fra Nasjonalgalleriets Venner 1934
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Larsen, Frode