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

Vera icon

c. 1490
Engraving, 168 x 112 mm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The type of the Man of Sorrows, standing before the Cross with his arms folded on his breast, was a resounding success in Late medieval art, due to the transfer of the mosaic icon from Constantinople o Rome around 1380, where it found a new home in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. In the fifteenth century, when the Carthusians of Santa Croce decided to publicise their church in order to attract more pilgrims, they made this precious icon the centrepiece of their campaign. The Carthusians approached Israel van Meckenem, the best known printmaker of the day, to make an engraving of the icon, together with a smaller version (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) for those of more modest means.

The inscription below the print reads: "This image was made after the model and likeness of the well known first image of the Pietà, which is preserved in the Church of the Holy Cross in the city of Rome, which the holy pope Gregory the Great ordered to be painted according to a vision that ha had had and that had been shown to him from above."