1870 Amand-Durand after Israhel van Meckenem Antique Print - Organ Player & Wife

Publisher : Charles Amand Durand

This fine, original antique wood-cut print of The Organ player and wife by Israhel van Meckenem in late 15th century was faithfully re-engraved and published by Charles Amand-Durand in 1870.
These beautiful re-engravings of classic and historical wood-cuts were painstakingly re-issued by Amand-Durand in Paris in the mid to late 19th century. Such is the quality of his re-strikes that Durands prints are now in major institutional collections such a the Louvre, National Gallery, The Met and many other famous Galleries. Please see below for further background on Amand-Durand.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: -
Colors used: -
General color appearance: -
Paper size: - 14in x 9 1/2in (350mm x 240mm)
Plate size: - 8in x 6in (205mm x 1530mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None


This husband-and-wife duo performs an intimate domestic concert, jointly playing a diminutive pipe organ with four stops. The wife operates the two bellows in time to the music, giving voice to the notes, while her husband creates the melody on the keyboard. He is clad in a housecoat and comfortable slippers and she wears a cozy fur-trimmed dress. Shown at the same scale and working in tandem, they symbolize a harmonious marriage. The little dog listening attentively is both an emblem of loyalty and a realistic detail of their well-to-do home.

Israhel van Meckenem (c.1445 – 10 November 1503), also known as Israhel van Meckenem the Younger, was a German printmaker and goldsmith, perhaps of a Dutch family origin.
He was the most prolific engraver of the fifteenth century and an important figure in the early history of old master prints. He was active from 1465 until his death.
He probably trained with Master E. S. in South Germany, and may well have been with him at his death c. 1467, since he acquired and reworked forty-one of the master\'s plates. Another two hundred of van Meckenem\'s own prints also were copies of ones by Master E. S. In total, he produced over six hundred plates, most of which were copies of other prints; they represent about 20% of print production by all Northern European artists in the period of his working life. His career lasted long enough for him to copy Dürer prints.
He copied prints by the Housebook Master, including some now otherwise lost, Martin Schongauer, and many other German engravers. His famous and very fine late series on the Life of the Virgin appears to have been based on drawings by Hans Holbein the Elder or his workshop, and he may have entered into a regular commercial relationship with Holbein.
His early works were fairly crude, but in the 1480s he developed an effective personal style and made increasingly large and finished works. His own compositions are often very lively, and take a great interest in the secular life of his day. One famous print, supposed to illustrate the story of St John the Baptist and Salome, pushes the specific incidents of the story far in the background to allow space for a scene of court dancers, dressed in the height of contemporary fashion, which takes up most of the plate.
He was sophisticated in self-presentation, signing later prints with his name and town, and producing the first self-portrait print of himself and his wife, which was also the first portrait print of an identifiable person. Some plates seem to have been reworked more than once by his workshop, or produced in more than one version, and many impressions have survived, so his ability to distribute and sell his prints was evidently equally well developed. He was apparently the first to issue engraved (as opposed to woodcut) indulgences, apparently bootlegged version[s] ... never subject to papal review; one print promises 20,000 years reduction of time in Purgatory per set of prayers, increased in a second state to 45,000 years.
In the Heures de Charles d\'Angoulême, an important manuscript showing the links between printmaking and illumination in the late 15th century, Robinet Testard incorporated sixteen of van Meckenem\'s prints, gluing them directly on to the vellum then overpainting.