Media File
Jacques Callot
Date: French etcher, engraver, and draftsman, 1592–1635
Biography: French printmaker who was one of the first great artists to practice the graphic arts exclusively. Callot’s career was divided into an Italian period (c. 1609–21) and a Lorraine (France) period (from 1621 until his death). He learned the technique of engraving under Philippe Thomassin in Rome. About 1612 he went to Florence. At that time Medici patronage expended itself almost exclusively in feste, quasi-dramatic pageants, sometimes dealing in allegorical subjects, and Callot was employed to make pictorial records of these mannered, sophisticated entertainments. He succeeded in evolving a naturalistic style while preserving the artificiality of the occasion. This required a very fine etching technique. Callot also had a genius for caricature and the grotesque. His series of plates of single or dual figures are witty and picturesque and show a rare eye for factual detail. With a few exceptions, the subject matter of the etchings of the Lorraine period is less frivolous. He illustrated sacred books, made a series of plates of the Apostles, and visited Paris to etch animated maps of the sieges of La Rochelle and the Île de Ré. In his last great series of etchings, the “small” (1632) and the “large” (1633) The Miseries and Misfortunes of War, he brought his documentary genius to bear on the atrocities of the Thirty Years’ War.