March 18, 2007

Callot

A few months ago I bought a copy of the 1989 reprint edition (published by Alan Wofsy Fine Arts of San Francisco), of Jules Lieure’s Jacques Callot: Catalogue Raisonné de L’Œuvre Gravé (‘The Complete Etchings and Engravings’). It’s an admirably comprehensive work, which illustrates over 1400 of Callot’s prints; although, while their quantity can hardly be faulted, the quality (of the reproductions) often leaves a good deal to be desired. There follows a tiny sample of some of the clearer images from this book…

Detail from 'L'embarquement des marchandises,' an etching by Jacques Callot from the series 'Diverse Vedute designate in Fiorenza,' ca. 1618.'

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Detail from 'Les baigneurs,' an etching by Jacques Callot from the series 'Diverse Vedute designate in Fiorenza,' ca. 1618.'

First, above, a pair of details from a series of landscapes collectively entitled Diverse Vedute designate in Fiorenza. These date from ca. 1618, while Callot was employed by the Medici court in Florence to visually document the grand entertainments staged by Duke Cosimo II. Besides large etchings of fairs, festivals, parades and tournaments, Callot etched series of prints illustrating beggars, courtiers, hunchbacks and commedia dell’arte characters, as in the pair of images below.

Detail from 'Le pantalon ou Cassandre,' an etching by Jacques Callot, one of 'Les Trois Pantalons,' early 1620s.

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Detail from 'Le capitan ou l'Amoureux,' an etching by Jacques Callot, one of 'Les Trois Pantalons,' early 1620s.

Callot had been born in Nancy, in the Duchy of Lorraine, ca. 1592. ‘He came from a prominent family (his father was master of ceremonies at the court of the Duke), and he often describes himself as having noble status in the inscriptions to his prints.’ Legend has it that, in 1604, the aspring artist ‘ran away to Italy in the company of a band of gypsies.’ The images below are from a group of four prints known as Les Bohémiens (‘The Gypsies’).

Detail from 'Le bohémiens en marche - l'arrière-garde,' an etching by Jacques Callot, one of the series 'Les Bohémiens,' 1620s.

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Detail from 'La halte des bohémiens - les apprêts du festin,' an etching by Jacques Callot, one of the series 'Les Bohémiens,' 1620s.

Following Cosimo II’s death in 1621, Callot returned to his native Nancy, where, excepting visits to Paris and the Netherlands later in the 1620s, he was to remain for the rest of his life. During his sojourn in Paris, Callot executed several large-scale commissions for Louis XIII, including very large, multi-sheet ‘infographics’ illustrating the sieges of La Rochelle and the Ile de Rè. The following pair of Grandes Vues de Paris presumably also date from this period.

Detail from 'Vue du Louvre,' an etching by Jacques Callot, one of 'Les deux grandes vues de Paris,' ca. 1630.

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Detail from 'Vue du Pont-Neuf,' an etching by Jacques Callot, one of 'Les deux grandes vues de Paris,' ca. 1630.

When French troops besieged Lorraine between 1631 and 1633, in an attempt to annex it, Callot depicted the conflict with what remain his best-known series of prints: Les Misères et Les Malheurs de la Guerre (‘The Miseries and Disasters of War’). These series move from scenes depicting the mobilisation and drilling of troops, through to battles, skirmishes, marauding and petty pillaging, to tableaux of martial torture and executions.

Detail from 'Le pillage d'une ferme,' an etching by Jacques Callot, from the series 'Les Misères et Les Malheurs de la Guerre,' 1633.

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Detail from 'La pendaison,' an etching by Jacques Callot, from the series 'Les Misères et Les Malheurs de la Guerre,' 1633.

‘While Callot’s exact intentions are not clear in executing the series, his images do appear to condemn unjust conduct in war through a juxtaposition of honorific and savage actions and his etchings inspired other artists such as Goya and Daumier to use prints as a polemical vehicle to critique the senseless practice of war and military injustice.’

Posted by misteraitch at March 18, 2007 05:38 PM
Comments

Thank you
Personnally I like very much the free drawings of Jacques Callot. For example :
http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=49&FP=53969253&E=22S39UWTOAY7R&SID=22S39UWTOAY7R&New=T&Pic=17&SubE=2C6NU0NTNKPA

Posted by: Tulapi on March 19, 2007 12:40 AM

Years ago I saw this cabinet in a French museum. It was all faced in ebony, with ivory panels that had Callot’s Les Misères et Les Malheurs de la Guerre painstakingly engraved into them (I distinctly remember the ‘strange fruit’ tree you are showing above). It was exquisitely made, but can you think of a less appropriate subject for decoration? Its like hiring the Chapman bros to do your wallpaper.

Posted by: 6-pack Chopra on March 21, 2007 11:08 PM

Oh! Thanks a lot for this post! I just realised he is the same Callot as in those verses (out of Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac" :

"Il eut fourni, je pense, a feu Jacques Callot
Le plus fol spadassin a mettre entre ses masques
Feutre a panache triple et pourpoint a six basques,
Cape que par derriere, avec pompe, l'estoc
Leve, comme une queue insolente de coq..."

It translates roughly as
"He would have been, methinks, for the late Jacques Callot/
The craziest swordsman to put between his masks/
Three-feathered fedora and six-skirted doublet/
A cape that the rapier lifts up at the back with pride/
Like a cock's brazen tail. "

Rose et jasmin sur ton chemin

Posted by: Abie on March 31, 2007 07:44 AM

Read through Google something in the archives, entered a comment, damn thing (i beg your pardon) did not allow me to save it. So, retrabusively, I enter a beautiful poem.


Lullaby.

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.


Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.


Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.


by W.H. Auden.

Posted by: john on March 31, 2007 08:26 PM
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