Claude Mellan

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Self-portrait, engraving by Claude Mellan (1635), Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sudarium of Saint Veronica, engraving by Claude Mellan, 1649

Claude Mellan (23 May 1598 – 9 March 1688) was a French engraver and painter.


Mellan was born in Abbeville, the son of a customs official. He studied under Simon Vouet in Paris, but showed more interest in engraving than painting. [1] From 1624 until 1636 he lived in Rome.[citation needed] The plates he engraved there were mostly executed in a conventional manner, but after his return to France he adopted an idiosyncratic technique, in which, instead of creating shade by cross-hatching, he used a system of parallel lines, regulating tone by varying their breadth and closeness.[1] Joseph Strutt wrote

The effect, which he produced by this method of engraving, is soft and clear . In single figures, and small subjects, he succeeded very happily; but in large subjects, where great depth of shadow was required, he has failed...[1]

Particularly notable is his engraving Sudarium of Saint Veronica (1649), created from a single spiralling line that starts at the tip of Jesus's nose. [1]

He died in Paris.


  1. ^ a b c d Strutt, Joseph (1786). "Claude Mellan". A Biographical Dictionary Containing All the Engravers, From the Earliest Period of the Art of Engraving to the Present Day 2. London: Robert Faulder. p. 142–4. 

External links[edit]

  • Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, a fully digitized exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries, which contains material on Claude Mellan (see index)