St. Bridget's Vision of the Nativity

Niccolo di Tommaso, St. Bridget and the Vision of the Nativity, circa 1372. Tempera on wood, Vatican, Rome.

Niccolò di Tommaso (1339−1376) was a 14th-century Italian painter active in Florence. Tomasso was influenced by Byzantine artistic traditions, evidenced by his use of gold motifs and delicate figures. Tommaso’s body of work consists mainly of small- to medium-sized devotional icons, including the one seen here. During a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in 1372, a saint named Bridget described a vision of the nativity that miraculously appeared to her. This small panel is one of the earliest representations of Bridget’s vision, making it much like a historical document. In Bridget’s vision, the virgin declares that her divine son Jesus was born while she was kneeling, without pain or assistance from others. The painting shows Mary kneeling over the beloved infant, and Bridget, presumably, off to the lower right. Angels observing from above form a protective ceiling over the miraculous scene.

Niccolò di Tommaso, St. Bridget and the Vision of the Nativity. Tempera on wood, ca. 1372. Vatican, Rome.

Birth, often accounts about the birth of Jesus.

Relating to the Byzantine empire, which ruled the Eastern Mediterranean from the fifth century CE to 1453; its capital was Byzantium (modern Istanbul).

Characteristic of a deity (a god or goddess).

A religious work of art often depicting a religious figure, as in a painting.

A recurring element or symbolism in artwork, literature, and other forms of expression.

A person deemed holy by a religious tradition, especially in Roman Catholicism.

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