Amelia Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse

Artist: Ludwig von Siegen (German, 1609–after 1676)

Date: 17th century

Medium: Mezzotint; first state

Dimensions: Sheet: 16 7/16 x 11 15/16 in. (41.8 x 30.3 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1918

Accession Number: 18.47


This accomplished portrait ranks as the first mezzotint ever made. Siegen sent it to the sitter, his former patron Amelia Elizabeth, landgravine of Hesse-Cassel, in August 1642, accompanied by a letter in which he described the technique—and claimed its invention. To roughen the copper printing plate and create the burr that would hold the ink, Siegen used roulettes of various gauges and designs, as well as a dotting tool; their textures remain visible here in the finished work. Although roulettes had been used for centuries by other artisans, working (for example) in leather or metal, Siegen was the first to use them as drawing tools.