THE IMAGE OF OUR LADY. A balad made by Iohn Lydgat of ye ymage of Our Lady.

1. Beholde and se this glorious fygure,
Whiche Sent Luke of our lady lyvynge
After her lyknes made in picture,
Lo here she is affter the same wyrkynge
As in Rome is had of Saynt Lukes payntynge,
In erthe as she was and her sone also,
And ther honoryd with solempne praysynge
In churche callyd Maria de Populo...
[MS. B.M. Adds. 29729, leaves 9, back, to 10.] Read the entire poem online

It is far from clear even what Lydgate means by ‘Beholde and se’ here. On the face of it, he is looking at a copy of the miraculous painting attributed to St. Luke, of which there must have been many copies - “after the same working”. There is no reason why Lydgate should not have seen such a copy, and that may be all we can say.

I have suspected for some time that the defaced lefthand side of the Little Kimble panel orginally showed a Pietà. Lydgate wrote many devotional poems in honour of the Virgin, and in Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England, John Marks, of the University of York reproduces a late 15th drawing of a Pietà, with a kneeling priest, perhaps intended for Lydgate himself, beside it.

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