Go to main contentGo to footer

Saint Benedict Makes his Nurse’s Broken Sieve Whole

Niccolò di Pietro (Venice, documented between 1394 and 1427)

1415-1420 c.
A7. Lorenzo Monaco - Gentile da Fabriano
Tempera on wood
108 x 62cm
1890 no. 9405

The painting shows an episode from St Benedict’s childhood, in which the founder of western monasticism's holiness was revealed at an early age. The child is shown blessing the terracotta sieve that his nurse has borrowed to clean some grain and which has accidentally fallen to the ground and broken. After St Benedict’s prayers, the sieve immediately becomes whole again. The scene takes place in a palazzo that features the late gothic architecture of northern Italy, with loggias and balconies, marble inlays, trilobed arches, and wood-paneled ceilings.  The scene is the first in a series of four episodes from the life of Benedict of Nursia, inspired by the Vita Sancti Benedicti written by Gregorio Magno, divided between the Uffizi Galleries and the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan. They were probably part of an altarpiece dedicated to the saint, and despite their destination not being entirely known, they were most likely destined to the Benedictine order. 

Although studies cannot agree on a definitive author, the paintings seem to be the work of Niccolò di Pietro, one of the most important artists working in Venice and north-western Italy during the affirmation of international Gothic style. With regard to the stories of St Benedict and Niccolò’s narrative and descriptive skills, it has been hypothesized that the ideation was aided by Gentile da Fabriano, with whom Niccolò di Pietro was certainly in contact in 1408.

The three panels in the Uffizi Galleries were previously in Palazzo Portalupi in Verona in the 19th century, before passing to the collection of Henry White Cannon in Fiesole. The paintings were purchased by the Galleries in 1937.

The other stories of St. Benedict by Niccolò di Pietro at the Uffizi:

St Benedict and the Poisoned Wine

St Benedict Raising a Young Monk



Text by
Daniela Parenti
Interested in visiting The Uffizi?
Arrange your visit to Florence, find prices and opening hours of the museum.

The Newsletter of the Uffizi Galleries

Subscribe to keep up to date!