MECKENEM, Israhel van the Younger
(b. 1440/45, Meckenheim, d. 1503, Bocholt)

The Artist and his Wife Ida

c. 1490
Copper engraving, 124 x 171 mm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

This double portrait is the earliest known example of a self-portrait in the graphic arts, but its basic composition has precedents in paintings of South Germany.

The hazy, heavy-lidded eyes, the large nose, and the drooping lower lip are executed with a sharpness of line that lends the artist's face a metallic cast, and the eyes and mouth of his wife characterize her as a shrewd and contented citizen.