New breakthroughs in image coding possibly rely in signal decomposition through non-separable basis functions. The work proposed in this paper provides an adaptive way of representing images as a sum of two-dimensional features. It presents a low bit-rate image coding method based on a Matching Pursuit expansion, over a dictionary built on anisotropic refinement and rotation of contour-like atoms. This method is shown to provide, at low bit-rates, results comparable to the state of the art in image compression, represented here by JPEG-2000 and SPIHT, showing that the visual quality is generally better in the Matching Pursuit scheme. The coding artifacts are less annoying than the ringing introduced by wavelets at very low bit rate, due to the smoothing performed by the basis functions used in the MP algorithm. In addition to good compression performance at low bit rate, the new coder has the advantage of producing highly flexible scalable streams. These can easily be decoded at any spatial resolution, different from the original image, and the bitstream can be truncated at any point to match diverse bandwidth requirements. The spatial adaptivity is shown to be more flexible and less complex than transcoding operations generally applied to state of the art codec bitstreams. Due to both its ability for capturing the most important parts of multidimensional signals, and a flexible stream structure, the image coder proposed in this paper represents an interesting solution to image coding for visual communication applications.