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Finding aid for the Jacques Callot etchings, ca. 1615-1635
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jacques Callot etchings
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1615-1635
    Number: 890027
    Creator/Collector: Callot, Jacques, 1592-1635
    Physical Description: 429.0 prints (4 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: French etcher and engraver (1592-1635). The 429 prints in this collection represent approximately one-third of Callot's works. These prints reflect Callot's major themes of religion, theater, genre, allegory, and war, and many are rendered in his characteristically miniature format. All prints are etchings except for one set of engravings; some etchings include engraving.
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    Language: Collection material is in French

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Jacques Callot was born in 1592 in Nancy, the capital of the duchy of Lorraine. His parents were part of the court circle, his father being herald-at-arms to the Duke of Lorraine and a member of the Duke's bodyguard of archers. When Charles III died in 1608, Callot's father was placed in charge of the obsequies, thus presaging Callot's own royal activities later in life. Callot received his first instruction from Claude Henriet, the court painter, in 1606. He was then taught by Demenge Crocq, a silversmith and engraver who also made ornamental designs on paper. According to André Félibien's Entretiens sur la vie et sur les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes (1666), Callot learned his trade in Remigio Cantagallina's workshop in Florence after running away to Italy with a band of Bohemian gypsies.
    More reliable sources record Callot arriving in Rome in 1609 in the company of a Lorraine diplomat. He spent three years as an apprentice in the workshop of Philippe Thomassin (1588-1660), an engraver and publisher of reproductive prints. He also became familiar with the studios of Francesco Villamena (1566-1626) and Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630). Tempesta, a Florentine, took Callot to Florence in 1612 to assist with etching the funeral book of Margherita of Austria, the Queen of Spain; Callot's first published etchings were illustrations for this book. He remained in Florence afterward and entered the service of the Medici in 1614. He made engravings of the life of Ferdinand de Medici and etchings after courtly festivals and theatrical productions, many designed by Giulio Parigi.
    After Cosimo II de Medici died prematurely in 1621, Callot returned to Nancy with Charles IV of Lorraine. While in Nancy, Charles commissioned him to organize, design, and make etchings after a festival, the Combat à la Barrière; Infante Isabella of the Netherlands commissioned him to etch a large view of the Siege of Breda; and Louis XIII commissioned him to etch plates of other sieges. In 1629 and again in 1630 and 1631, Callot spent a few months in Paris. He remained in Nancy, where he suffered illness for the last five years of his life and died in 1635.
    Callot began his career as an engraver, learning the more formal and meticulous intaglio practice. When he became an etcher, his innovations added durability and improved capacity for variety to etching's established virtues of speed and flexibility. Callot executed over 1400 prints--single prints, suites, and book illustrations--in a lifetime of forty-three years. Many of his plates were published and subsequently owned by his childhood friend from Nancy, Israël Henriet (ca. 1590-1661), who established himself as a printmaker, seller, and publisher in Paris. Many prints were taken from his plates after his death (over 300 copper plates remain at the Musée Historique Lorrain in Nancy), and he has continued to be popular and very influential for etchers and other artists.
    In 1617 Callot first experimented with the hard, quick-drying varnish of mastic and linseed oil used by Florentine makers of stringed instruments. This hard etching ground did not chip off the plate or cause pitting and foul biting, as was common with the soft ground commonly used for etching until that time. Without the likelihood of accidental damage to the plate, the hard ground expanded the possibilities of repeated biting, a practice that Callot employed to effectively create light and space, although he did not discover it. The hard ground also provided a better surface for the manipulation of metal tools, another area of Callot's innovations. He invented the échoppe, a steel cylinder cut at a slant at one end, larger than the usual etching needle and more like the tools used by wood engravers. The échoppe, which he used in many sizes, allowed him to vary the width of his lines, swelling and diminishing them as engravers did, to suggest the volume of forms and vigorous physical movement. Abraham Bosse's 1645 treatise, Traicté des manieres de graver en taille dovce svr l'airin par le moyen des eaux fortes, & des vernix durs & mols, publicized Callot's technical accomplishments and spread their use.
    The principal aspects of Callot's artistic personality are his technical virtuosity, his draftsmanship, and his distinctive use of a miniature format. His ambitious, lively compositions, usually of contemporary life or religious history, create a sense of distance with their progression from a dark foreground to a light background and a sense of spaciousness with their small figures in large spaces, whether outdoors or on a stage. Callot "skillful[ly] blend[s] acute visual observation with a penchant for stylish exaggeration" (Russell), combining particularities and stereotypes and displaying his virtuosity by convincingly depicting crowds and immense spaces within the confines of small prints. Callot was a methodical artist who made many preparatory drawings, both large compositions and detailed studies, and made few changes in images on the plate. He studied life around him at court, in the city, in fields, military camps, on the roads, and in the streets and combined this knowledge with a fertile imagination and a thoughtful sense of composition.
    The major themes of Callot's prints are religion, theater, war, and landscape. Religious works formed the largest category of his oeuvre throughout his career and clearly promoted Catholic Counter-Reformation subjects such as the Virgin, the saints, and martyrs. He received commissions from individuals and from Catholic orders and created works on his own initiative. Callot spent a great deal of time making official visual records of court festivals, theatrical performances, and funerals, in addition to more fanciful portrayals of commedia dell'arte characters. War was ever-present in seventeenth-century Europe; and Callot depicted all aspects of it, from sieges and battles to preparations and depredations. Landscape is a common element in these works, though he made few scenes of pure landscape. His landscapes--both fantasies and documentary images--are often peopled with picaresque and picturesque poor people: beggars, gypsies, peasants, and soldiers. Callot's many allegorical and emblematic images, often religious and in large sets, contribute significantly to that Baroque genre. In addition, he engraved a few portraits and, very early in his career, rendered some copies of paintings.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Jacques Callot etchings, ca.1615-1635, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 890027.

    Acquisition Information

    The Getty Research Institute aquired this collection in 1989.

    Notes on Processing

    Description for items in this collection is presented as follows:
    Title of print.
    Title of set (number of prints in set).
    Place, date: Publisher.
    State of print. R. Measurements.
    Bibliographic reference(s).
    Provenance information.
    Titles are listed in English, following common usage. Series titles are given first when the complete series is present. All entries are etchings unless otherwise specified.
    Publication information is taken from the prints and from bibliographic sources; complete names are used when known. Supplied information is in brackets. s.l. = sine loco (without place). s.d. = sine datum (without date). s.n. = sine nomine (without name).
    R., R.R., R.R.R., and R.R.R.R. are Lieure's designations for successively rarer states of Callot's prints. R.R.R.R. is used for states known only in five or fewer examples.
    All measurements are in centimeters. For suites of prints, only one page has been measured; this is usually the title page or the first print. Pl. = platemark; Sh. = sheet. Al. = album page.
    Descriptions and citations reference the following secondary sources:
    L'Art en Lorraine au temps de Jacques Callot: Musée des beaux-arts, Nancy, 13 juin-14 septembre 1992. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1992.
    Jacques Callot, 1592-1635: [exhibition] at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, March 5 through April 11, 1970. [Providence]: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design; Department of Art, Brown University, 1970.
    Jacques Callot, 1592-1635: [exposition] Musée historique lorrain, Nancy, 13 juin-14 septembre 1992. Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1992.
    Lieure, Jules. Jacques Callot. New York: Collectors Editions, 1969. Reprint of edition published in Paris, 1924-1929. 8 volumes.
    Lugt, Frits. Les marques de collections de dessins & d'estampes: marques estampillées et écrites de collections particulières et publiques, marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs, cachets de vente d'artistes décédés, marques de graveurs apposées après le tirage des planches, timbres d'édition, etc. avec des notices historiques sur les collectionneurs, les collections, les ventes, les marchands et éditeurs, etc. Amsterdam: Vereenigde Drukkerijen, 1921.
    Lugt, Frits. Les marques de collections de dessins & d'estampes: marques estampillées et écrites de collections particulières et publiques, marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs, cachets de vente d'artistes décédés, marques de graveurs apposées après le tirage des planches, timbres d'édition, etc. avec des notices historiques sur les collectionneurs, les collections, les ventes, les marchands et éditeurs, etc.: supplément. La Haye: M. Nijhoff, 1956.
    Meaume, Édouard. Recherches sur la Vie et les Ouvrages de Jacques Callot: Suite au Peintre-graveur Français de M. Robert-Dumesnil. Paris: J. Renouard, 1860.
    Russell, H. Diane. Jacques Callot: Prints & Related Drawings. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1975.
    Ternois, Daniel. L'Art de Jacques Callot. Paris: F. de Nobele, 1962.

    Processing History

    Anne-Marie Schaaf processed this collection in September and October of 1996.

    Separated Material

    All transferred to the library as rare books.
    The Calendar of Saints (124 prints + 1 p. letterpress). Paris, 1636: Israël Henriet. Guide Book to Buildings in the Holy Land (47 prints). Florence, 1620: Pietro Cecconcelli. Portrait of Senator Donato Dell'Antella. Oration of Cammillo Rinuccini (2 prints). Florence, 1618: Zanobi Pignoni. Solimano (6 prints). [Florence, 1620: Pietro Cecconcelli].

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection of 429 prints constitutes approximately a third of Callot's work. It focuses on his religious, theatrical, genre, and military works. Most of the prints are in sets, and most sets are complete. All are etchings, some with engraving, except for one set of engravings. The format is often small, even tiny, especially in the larger sets. Four sets are bound in books, which have been transferred to the library and cataloged as rare books.
    The collection's strong representation of religious works (279 prints) constitutes Series I. This series includes seven history-picture scenes from the Old and New Testaments, two sets focused on the apostles (portraits and martyrdoms), two separate scenes of saints' struggles, a calendar book with images of the namesake saint on each feast day, a book with engravings of buildings in the Holy Land, and three sets focused on the Virgin Mary (two of which are emblematic, one on her life). Series II comprises a single secular allegory (for a thesis) and a secular emblem (for a noble). Series III includes fifty chronologically-arranged works depicting theatrical and courtly events (a play, mock combats, a funeral, parades, and pageants). With the exception of the Balli di Sfessania (commedia dell'arte figures posturing), these prints depict known events on a given date; most are Medici festivals, and one is from Lorraine. Series IV contains fifty-two prints of genre, costume, and landscape scenes: beggars; male and female figure studies from both noble and working classes; bucolic country scenes at a home and a fair; elite pleasure grounds at the palace in Nancy; and the enigmatic Slave Market, also known as The Spectators and The Little View of Paris; . Series V includes forty-seven military images. Of these, a military portrait, a combat scene, and The Life of Ferdinand I (the latter not entirely military, but with many battle scenes) depict actual persons or events, while the Military Exercises and Miseries of War depict more generalized activities of drills and depredation.
    The collection includes duplicates from the Graphische Sammlung Albertina; these prints may have belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), whose collection was purchased by the Hapsburg Emperor Charles VI in 1737, became part of the Österreiches Nationalbibliothek, and was merged with the Albertina in 1919. The Prince's collection included prints obtained from the Mariettes, especially from Jean Mariette (1660-1742). Some of the Prince's acquisitions from the Mariettes may now be part of this collection; The Ordeal by Arrows (St. Sebastian) is accompanied by a sheet with the signature (Lugt 1789) of Pierre II Mariette (1634-1716), father of Jean. Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694-1774), son of Jean, visited the Prince to arrange and catalog his collection and facilitated his acquisition of additional prints. Other individual collectors whose marks are found on these prints include Joseph Wenzel, Prince of Liechtenstein (Solimano), Edwin De Turck Bechtel (b. 1880) ( Balli di Sfessania), Giuseppe Storck (1766-1836) ( The Four Feasts), Joseph-Guillaume-Jean Camberlyn ( The Fair at Xeuilley/ Gondreville), and Ambroise Firmin-Didot ( The Fair at Xeuilley/ Gondreville); additional marks on The Fair at Xeuilley/ Gondreville were investigated without conclusion. The collection also includes duplicates from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.).

    Arrangement note

    The prints are arranged in 5 series: Series I. Religious works; Series II. Allegories/emblems; Series III. Theatrical and courtly works; Series IV. Genre, costume, and landscape scenes; Series V. Military works

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine, 1604-1675
    Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, 1590-1621
    Ferdinando I, Grand-Duke of Tuscany, 1549-1609
    Parigi, Giulio, 1571-1635

    Subjects - Topics

    Art and state--France--History--17th century
    Art and state--Italy
    Art and state--Italy--Florence--History--17th century
    Art--Political aspects--France--17th century
    Clothing and dress--History--17th century
    Festivals--France--Early works to 1800
    Theater--France--Early works to 1800
    Theater--Italy--Florence--History--17th century
    Tournaments--France--Nancy--17th century

    Subjects - Places

    Florence (Italy)--Court and courtiers
    Italy--Social life and customs--17th century
    Lorraine (France)--Court and courtiers--Early works to 1800

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Emblems (allegorical pictures)
    Emblems (allegorical pictures)--France--17th century
    Engravings--France--17th century
    Engravings--Italy--17th century
    Etchings--France--17th century
    Etchings--Italy--17th century
    Prints--France--17th century
    Prints--Italy--17th century


    Bechtel, Edwin DeTurck, 1880-1957
    Cecconcelli, Pietro
    Firmin-Didot, Ambroise, 1790-1876
    Henriet, Israel, ca. 1590-1661
    Langlois, François, 1588-1647
    Liechtenstein, Joseph Wenzel, Fürst von, 1696-1772
    Mariette, Pierre, 1634-1716
    Mariette, Pierre-Jean, 1694-1774
    Rosselli, Matheo, 1578-1650