Gentile da Fabriano, St. Nicholas Saves a Ship from Sinking; predella panel from the Quaratesi Altarpiece, 1425. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. http://www.artres.com http://www.scalarchives.com . (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

While there is much to love in this very strange painting – how the storm clouds darken the skies and sea on the right, the limpid green water, the concise depiction of details such as the rope ladders – my favorite part is the pale mermaid on the lower left. The figure is delicately painted, and every scale is clearly delineated. Is she the reason the boat is in dire straits? Or is she just another creature of the sea, along with the fishes and the starfish that share the bottom of the composition? Is she escaping St. Nicholas (she turns her face towards him as she swims away), or is she just surprised by his arrival? And doesn’t he look like a superhero in his red cape and gloves?

–  Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, Website Content Manager

Detail of Gentile da Fabriano, St. Nicholas Saves a Ship from Sinking; predella panel from the Quaratesi Altarpiece, 1425. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. http://www.artres.com http://www.scalarchives.com. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.