Thursday, 5 December 2013
Advent Caldender 2013: Day 6
Attributed to Girolamo Macchietti The Charity of St Nicholas of Bari c.1555-60 National Gallery London
The story of our much loved Father Christmas originates with St Nicholas of Bari and this particular episode in his life. In this painting he is shown relieving the financial woes of the family inside the room to the right hand of the image. The father, painted seated in a wooden chair, is surrounded by his three daughters. He is faced with the prospect of having to sell these very daughters into prostitution. St Nicholas is shown at the window holding two gold balls, the third he has already thrown in and can be seen on the bed at the back of the scene.
These golden balls represent a gift of gold one for each daughter. These would be the dowries for the nobleman's three daughters saving them from a life of ill repute.