NICCOLÒ DI GIACOMO DA BOLOGNA
(Bologna, c. 1325 – c. 1403)
The Stoning of St. Stephen in an Initial “S” (cutting on parchment, 150 x 170 mm.)
Italy, Bologna, c. 1375-1400
AN ANIMATED SCENE BY THE FAMED BOLOGNESE ARTITS NICOLO DI GIACOMO
From an illuminated Choir Book, perhaps a Gradual, this cutting portrays a scene of the stoning of Stephen, who is considered the first Christian martyr and whose feast is celebrated on December 26. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen was denounced for blasphemy after a dispute with members of a Jewish synagogue and sentenced to death by stoning in the year circa 36 CE. Here, Stephen wearing a halo kneels on the ground while two figures on the left throw stones at his head, commanded by a third person on the right.
Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna, usually known as Niccolò da Bologna, was one of the most important and prolific manuscript illuminators in fourteenth-century Bologna. Known for his expressive figures and crowded, action-filled narrative scenes, Niccolò signed copies of Gratian’s Decretals, one of the standard texts of canon law, early in his career. He and his workshop later illuminated a variety of other manuscripts, including university texts, Choir Books and other liturgical texts, private devotional books, and even works of secular poetry and drama. He was appointed illuminator to the city of Bologna in the 1380s and was an active member of city government.