Simon Marmion (French, ca. 1425–1489)
Oil and tempera(?) on oak panel; 20 3/8 x 12 7/8 in. (51.8 x 32.7 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.128)
This painting depicts Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus placing the body of Christ across the lap of the Virgin, while Saint John the Evangelist, Mary Magdalene, and a female companion express grief with restrained gestures. The choice of figures and adorational subject of the image suggest it was not based on the Gospels but on popular devotional literature. On the verso of this panel are the interlaced initials of Duke Charles the Bold and Margaret of York, who were married in 1468. In May of 1473, Margaret accompanied her husband to a meeting of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Valenciennes, where Simon Marmion was active. It may have been at this point that the duke, who had paid Marmion in 1470 for a breviary begun for his father, Philip the Good, commissioned the artist to paint The Lamentation. The modest size and devotional character of the painting reflect the Burgundian duke's use of art for religious and, possibly, private purposes.