In this rare scene from his infancy, Saint Nicholas refuses his mother’s milk. The image served as an exemplar for fasting and abstinence, especially for monastic communities. The relics of Saint Nicholas resided at Bari, in southern Italy, where the protection of this popular saint had wide appeal.
The court of Frederick II Hohenstaufen (r. 1215–50) actively promoted the creation and collection of works, such as these cameos, linking Frederick’s reign with the imperial past.
[ Unknown Dealer, Germany (before 1958)]; [ Les Enluminures, Chicago (sold 2000)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2000-2001." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 59, no. 2 (Fall 2001). p. 17.
Bacci, Michele, ed. San Nicola: Splendori d'arte d'Oriente e d'Occidente. Bari: Castello Svevo, 2006. no. V.2, pp. 271, 286.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cameo Appearances." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 65, no. 4 (Spring 2008). pp. 18-19, fig. 31.
Wieczorek, Alfred, Stefan Weinfurter, and Bernd Schneidmüller. Die Staufer und Italien: Drei Innovationsregionen im Mittelalterlichen Europa. Mannheim: Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, 2010. no. III.D.7, p.88.