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Medallion, St. Nicholas

Artist: Unknown Byzantine Artist Primary
Date: 11th century
16th century
Dimensions: 1.31 x 0.75 x 0.06 in. (3.33 x 1.91 x 0.16 cm)
Object Type: Medal
Creation Place: Europe, Georgia
Medium and Support: Cloisonne enamel, gold
Credit Line: Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.663)
Accession Number: L2010.01.05
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

St. Nicholas, fourth-century Bishop of Myra (Turkey), is the patron saint of children, sailors, prisoners awaiting execution, and endangered travelers. On the medallion, he is giving a sign of blessing. Byzantine goldsmiths developed tools and a precise technique to create some of the finest enamels. Cloisonné enamels are made by filling small cells formed by gold wire, called cloisons, with glass powder and firing in a kiln. Here, St. Nicholas is made from eight distinct colors – ten colors are the maximum seen in one enameled image in this period. Unlike other medallions that would have been worn around the neck, the drilled holes show that this would have been fastened to the cover of a religious book, framing a central icon image. It was probably created in a monastery in the country of Georgia.


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Small pieces of metal, usually gold, silver, or bronze and bearing a relief design on one or both sides and having a commemorative purpose; resembling a coin, but not used as a medium of exchange.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
Refers to the world religion and culture that developed in the first century CE, driven by the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Its roots are in the Judaic tradition and the Old Testament. The tenets include a belief in the death and redemptive resurrection of Jesus. The religion incorporates a tradition of faith, ritual, and a form of church authority or leadership.

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