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Paolo Veronese, The Consecration of Saint Nicholas

Key facts
Full title The Consecration of Saint Nicholas
Artist Paolo Veronese
Artist dates 1528 - 1588
Date made 1562
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 286.5 × 175.3 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Governors of the British Institution, 1826
Inventory number NG26
Location Room 9
Collection Main Collection
The Consecration of Saint Nicholas
Paolo Veronese

Saint Nicholas lived in the fourth century and was a bishop of Myra, on the southern coast of modern Turkey. His relics were taken from Myra to Bari in Italy in 1087 and remain there today, which is why he is known as Saint Nicholas of Bari. He is the model of our ‘Santa Claus’ because of a legend that he secretly made a gift of dowries to three impoverished young women.

Veronese’s painting shows Nicholas’s consecration as a bishop. On the eve of the election of a new bishop at Myra, a voice revealed that a pious youth called Nicholas had been divinely chosen and would be the first to appear at the cathedral door in the morning. Veronese depicts the entrance of the cathedral, where the senior bishop consecrates Nicholas, who kneels flanked by two older priests in white surplices. An angel descends with a bishop’s mitre (hat), stole (scarf-like vestment) and crosier (staff), showing that Nicholas has been chosen by God.

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