Veronica , filled with compassion for the suffering of Jesus on the road to Calvary, wiped his sweating face with a cloth. An image of his features was miraculously transferred to the fabric. Mellan (1598-1688) has achieved something like a miracle of a different sort. In a single line and starting from the tip of Jesus' nose, Mellan has engraved the entire face, the folded veil, and the lettering below. The modulations in direction, from thick to thin, model the image in chiaroscuro (light and dark). Thus the shapes and volume of the engraving are achieved.
Mellan studied engraving for five years in Paris before travelling to Rome in 1624. He remained in Rome for twelve years, refining the Italian engraving style he found in the work of Francesco Villamena and Agostino Carracci. He learned to dispense with cross-hatching and model forms just by controlling the swelling and tapering of his lines.