In yesterday’s action packed blog cleverly titled The Met You Haven’t Met, I show a picture of the Blessing Bishop and speculated as to why he was hollowed.
Looking around the web some more, I came up with a possible explanation. In Italian Medieval Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters by Lisbeth Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Jack Soultanian, it is suggested that is might have been included as part of a framing structure. Probably an altarpiece with painted wings showing episodes from the life of St. Nicholas, to whom the church from which the sculpture came was dedicated.
Since I am on the road and didn’t have my copy with me, I found the book at Google Books.
Well, that’s one explanation. I like it.