[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail: Bill Thayer 
[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

S. Niccolò in Matigge:
The North Wall of the Nave


[image ALT: A stone wall with four rectangular frescoes, with frontal depictions of saints. The frescoes are marked by the traces of rivulets of water. It is a view of the north wall of the nave inside the church of S. Niccolò near Matigge, Umbria (central Italy).]

The votive frescoes that remain on the N wall.
The vertical streaks of water damage can clearly be seen; the damage continues today.

As in many small churches of central Italy, it's pointless trying to find a grand iconographic scheme at S. Niccolò: we have a series of votive frescoes.

S. Bernardino


[image ALT: A stone wall with four rectangular frescoes, with frontal depictions of saints. The frescoes are marked by the traces of rivulets of water. It is a view of the north wall of the nave inside the church of S. Niccolò near Matigge, Umbria (central Italy).]

S. Bernardino di Siena is triply recognizable here: first, we know what he looked like; second, the band of background behind his head appears to give his name; third, he is pointing to the disk for which he became famous: if the water had not damaged the fresco so badly, we would see the monogram of Jesus, IHS, with rays of light streaming from it, which he would point to in all his sermons, shaming the fractious into a sense of civility and often even concord.

Mother and Child with St. Nicholas


[image ALT: A painting of the Virgin Mary, seated and holding Jesus on her lap, next to a kindly-looking bearded man of about thirty holding a bishop's crozier. Jesus has the traits of a child of about eight, and is sitting sideways, blessing the man, who is to be identified with St. Nicholas. It is a fresco on the north wall of the nave inside the church of S. Niccolò near Matigge, Umbria (central Italy).]

A rather unsuccessful Mother and Child (detail) with a pretty good St. Nicholas; hard to imagine the same person painted them both. It's only in context that St. Nicholas can be recognized here: he's holding a bishop's crozier, just barely to be made out — and it's his church.

Mother and Child — very damaged


[image ALT: A very damaged painting of the head of a woman and her child. It is a fresco of the Virgin and Child on the north wall of the nave inside the church of S. Niccolò near Matigge, Umbria (central Italy).]

This time the Virgin has been much better represented. It's a pity the painting has been so badly damaged.

The two principal causes of damage can be clearly seen: water and graffiti. The graffiti, however, have by and large respected the main figures in the paintings, and should be viewed not as antisocial vandalism like much of today's graffiti, but something between a pilgrim's prayers and the scratchings of a tourist.

The water, on the other hand, has been far more destructive and has no intrinsic meaning: except of course that the roof here is none too good. The church of S. Niccolò was restored in the 1920s, and has what appears to be a good newish truss-and‑beam roof (which you probably saw on the previous page) — but it still leaks in here, and the frescoes are endangered.

Continuing our visit again:


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 5 Nov 04