Israhel van Meckenem, Self-portrait and Wife, an engraving
Germany, signed, around AD 1490
Copperplate engraved double portrait
The Latin inscription on the bottom of this
print translates as 'The portrait of Israhel and Ida his
wife', followed by the artist's
Israhel van Meckenem (1450-1503) was the most prolific printmaker of the fifteenth century: some 620 engravings are attributed to him. He is notorious for copying the work of other engravers, including 200 prints by Master ES, and the three engravings by Schongauer shown here. He even reworked 41 plates by Master ES that had worn down in the printing process. His original engravings show scenes from everyday life. They record contemporary dress and manners with honesty and humour.
Double portraits of a husband and wife were known in contemporary painting (they are also found on ancient Roman tombstones), but separate painted panels designed to be hung together were more common. In this engraving, Israhel and Ida gaze outwards without acknowledging each other's presence. They look like separate portraits engraved on a single plate, and then united visually by the ornamental panel behind them.
D. Landau and P. Parshall, The Renaissance print 1470-155 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1994)
Width: 173.000 mm
PD E.1 - 94 (Lehrs 1)