20 July 2017

OUR LADY of WALSINGHAM

OUR LADY of WALSINGHAM

This Millefleur Press broadside of Our Lady of Walsingham is based on one of my ink drawings on calfskin vellum. A scan of my drawing, slightly enlarged and modified, was used to create the plate for letterpress printing.

The shrine of the Blessed Virgin at Walsingham was one of the major pilgrimage destinations in medieval England. Built to commemorate a series of visions experienced by Richeldis de Faverches in the 11th century, it housed a miracle-working statue. The shrine was looted and desecrated under Henry VIII, and the statue was removed to Chelsea and burned.

Surviving drawings of the destroyed statue show Mary seated on a throne, holding a lily stalk in her hand. The throne has seven rings around its two pillars, representing the sacraments. Under her foot is a toadstone, a traditional symbol of evil (which I depicted as literally bufiform). The Christ Child sits on her lap and holds a book.

The text below the central image is a line from a 15th century English poem:

I syng of a myden that is makeles.
King of alle kynges to here Sone che ches.
He cam also stylle there His moder was
As dew in Aprylle, that fallyt on the gras.
He cam also stylle to His moderes bowr
As dew in Aprille, that fallyt on the flour.
He cam also stylle ther His moder lay
As dew in Aprille, that fallyt on the spray.
Moder & mayden was never non but che -
Wel may swych a lady Godes moder be.


I formatted the picture like a recto book leaf. The design of the border was heavily influenced by the Sherborne Missal, a manuscript illuminated in 14th century England. Stylized vines twist through it, supporting geometric ornaments and small sections of millefleur and seashell patterns. To the right is a Gothic monstrance housing an image of the Man of Sorrows. In the bas-de-page I drew pilgrims coming to and going from the Chapel of St. Catherine, which is about a mile from Walsingham. In medieval times, it was common for pilgrims to remove their shoes there to walk the final mile on bare feet. Thus it became known as the Slipper Chapel.

I drew St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret of Antioch (whose statues flanked the statue of Blessed Virgin in the medieval shrine) and St. Lawrence in the corners of the border.

OUR LADY of WALSINGHAM

Read more here.

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