This painting was probably one of a series of panels; each one depicting one of the Seven Acts of Mercy. The Seven Acts or Works of Mercy were actions or practices which were seen by the believer as a means of attaining a state of grace and entry to heaven, for example, feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. This was one of the ideologies of the Roman Catholic Church. These works express mercy and should be performed by believers, when able, in accordance with the Gospel of St Matthew: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy' (Matthew 5:7).
This panel shows a blind beggar being led by another and being given food by the woman with bowed head. The sightless beggar appears to gaze out at the edge of the painting whilst the woman's small son engages the viewer directly as if reminding us of the Acts of Mercy.
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