This scene is one of two that illustrate an early episode in the life of Saint Nicholas, soon after he was elected bishop of Myra in Asia Minor in the fourth century. Here two knights, identified by their shirts of mail, are being falsely accused of treason and condemned by the consul. A third knight, the right arm of the consul, and the beginning of the inscription—[S N]ICO/ LAVS: PR[A]ESES/ MILITES (Nicholas protects the soldiers)—were lost when the panel was cut down at an undetermined time. In the second scene (acc. no. 1980.263.3), Nicholas responds to the knights' prayers by appearing before the counsul to plead for their release. A palace guard looks on from the left.
The panels probably came from an ambulatory chapel dedicated to Saint Nicolas in the cathedral of Soissons, whose choir was under construction in the 1190s. This type of composition, in which each narrative element is framed under an arcade, is among the earliest known examples of its kind and is strongly associated with Soissons. The elegant figural style and flowing drapery patterns exemplify a classicizing trend found in northern France from the late twelfth through early thirteenth century.
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Title:Condemned Soldiers from Scenes from the Life of Saint Nicholas
Geography:Made in Picardy, France
Medium:Pot-metal glass and vitreous paint
Dimensions:Overall: 21 5/16 x 16in. (54.2 x 40.7cm)
Credit Line:The Cloisters Collection, 1980
Inscription: [N]ICO / LAVS . PR[A]ESES / MILITES . [should be MILITIUM] (Nicholas, guardian of soldiers)
From the ambulatory (?) of the cathedral of Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais, Soissons; Raymond Pitcairn American, Bryn Athyn, PA. (until 1966) ; Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, PA. (sold 1980)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mirror of the Medieval World," March 9–June 1, 1999.
Verdier, Philippe. "A Stained Glass from the Cathedral of Soissons." The Corcoran Gallery of Art Bulletin 10 (1958). pp. 4–20.
Grodecki, Louis. "Les Vitraux Soissonnais du Louvre, du Musee Marmotten et des Collections Americaines." La Revue des Arts 10 (1960). pp. 163–78.
Grodecki, Louis. "Le Maitre de Saint Eustache de la Cathedral de Chartres." In Gedenkschrift Ernst Gall. Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1965. pp. 188–89.
Grodecki, Louis. Le Vitrail Roman. Fribourg: Office du Livre, 1977. pp. 218–19.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1980-1981 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1981). pp. 25–26.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Eleventh Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1980, through June 30, 1981." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 111 (1981). p. 42.
Gazette des Beaux-Arts. "La Chronique des Arts: Principales Acquisitions des Musées en 1981." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 6th ser., 99, supplement (March 1982). no. 205, p. 40.
Hayward, Jane, and Walter Cahn. Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982. no. 51a, pp. 137–39, pl. VIII, p. 18.
Kleinbauer, Walter Eugene. "Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums." Gesta 21, no. 1 (1982). p. 77, fig. 10–11.
Grodecki, Louis, and Catherine Brisac. Le Vitrail Gothique au XIIIe Siècle. Fribourg: Office du Livre, 1984. pp. 38–41.
Caviness, Madeline H., ed. Stained Glass Before 1700 in American Collections: New England and New York (Corpus Vitrearum Checklist I). Studies in the History of Art, Vol. 15. Washington, D.C.: National Art Gallery, 1985. p. 97.
Childs, Suse. "Two Scenes from the Life of St. Nicholas and their Relationship to the Glazing Program of the Chevet Chapels at Soissons Cathedral." In Studies on Medieval Stained Glass: Selected Papers from the XIth International Colloquium of the Corpus Vitrearum, New York, 1-6 June 1982, edited by Madeline H. Caviness, and Timothy B. Husband. Corpus Vitrearum Occasional Papers, Vol. 1. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985. pp. 25–33, fig. 1.
Grodecki, Louis, and Catherine Brisac. Gothic Stained Glass, 1200-1300. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1985. pp. 40–43.
Shepard, Mary B. Europe in the Middle Ages, edited by Charles T. Little, and Timothy B. Husband. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 82–83, pl. 74.
Beaven, Marilyn M. "A Medieval Procession: Sacred Rites Commemorated in a Stained Glass Panel from Soissons Cathedral." Bulletin of The Detroit Institute of Arts 67, no. 1 (1992). pp. 31–37.
Caviness, Madeline H., Elizabeth Carson Pastan, and Marilyn M. Beaven. "The Gothic Window from Soissons: A Reconsideration." In Paintings on Glass: Studies in Romanesque and Gothic Monumental Art, edited by Madeline H. Caviness. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997. p. 10.
Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 121 A, pp. 100–101.
Raguin, Virginia C., and Helen Jackson Zakin. Stained Glass Before 1700 in the Collections of the Midwest States. Corpus Vitrearum USA, Vol. 8. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2001. p. 158.
Hayward, Jane. English and French Medieval Stained Glass in The Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Volume 1, edited by Mary B. Shepard, and Cynthia Clark. Corpus Vitrearum USA, Vol. 1. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003. no. 12, pp. 104–108, fig. 12.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 39, pp. 73, 195.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 71.
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