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Drawings by Jacques Callot
The Entrance of Monsieurs de Couvonge and de Chalabre ca. 1627
Battle of cavalrymen ca. 1618
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View of mountains over a lake, ca. 1632
Brush and brown wash over black chalk 3 15/16 x 8 11/16 in.
Jacques Callot often featured complex and highly expressive rock formations in his prints and drawings. Only through sensitive observation of natural phenomena was he able to capture a wide range of effects of light and shade with an economical, rhythmic use of wash. Remarkably, despite his freedom and fluidity in applying wash, there is no evidence that he was ever a painter.
The forthrightness and simplicity with which Callot described forms on the page and his masterly use of light reveal experiments in landscape parallel to those of his two great French contemporaries, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. Both Poussin and Claude lived in Italy, where Callot worked from 1612 to 1621.
While this drawing's purpose is not known, both it and Callot’s An Army Leaving a Castle may have been studies for engravings that were never made.
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Army leaving a castle 1632 Brush and brown wash over black chalk 4 x 8 9/16 in.
Jacques Callot's bravura handling of wash, the expansiveness of the setting, and the large number of participants belie this sheet's tiny size. Callot typically created small prints and drawings whose action and setting may be best appreciated with a magnifying glass.
The location and subject depicted in this drawing are unknown, but the camels indicate an Eastern locale. With rich use of wash and dramatic compositional rhythms, Callot invented a complex scene of an army marching in procession from a castle or walled city with captives and booty. Banners aloft, they regroup to trumpet fanfares in the lower right corner. Huge tongues of flame, seen clearly in the black chalk underdrawing, burst from the battlements.
In style, subject, and horizontal format, this drawing resembles compositions from one of Callot's masterworks, his Miseries of War etchings of 1633. He completed the series soon after Cardinal Richelieu's devastating invasion of the Lorraine region and the capture of Callot's hometown of Nancy.
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Study of a rearing horse, ca. 1616
Pen and brown ink
12 3/4 x 7 1/4 in.
This powerful image clearly displays Jacques Callot developing the motif of a rearing horse. He first laid out the sheet horizontally, with the present left side at the top, and lightly sketched the back of the head of a horse in the center of the page. He then turned the sheet vertically and drew the whole animal with a fine, quill pen. Finally, Callot went back over the outlines with a thicker reed pen, adding emphasis and creating a sense of rippling movement with dark, sure strokes. The streaming mane and tail and the unusual vertical format emphasize the upward movement of the rearing horse.
Upon completing the large stallion, Callot returned to the quill pen to execute the tiny equine figure in the lower right. More fluid still, the horse and rider capture the movements of its larger counterpart in remarkable detail, down to the glimpse of the underside of the front left hoof between the horse's hind legs. The drawing demonstrates Callot's marvelous capacity to miniaturize motifs in a dashing, shorthand manner.
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Portrait of Claude Deruet, 1632
Pen, sepia ink, brown wash over black chalk
H. 26.6 cm; W. 17.7 cm
A rare example of a pen drawing by Callot, this is a full-length portrait of the painter Claude Deruet accompanied by his son Henri-Nicolas. A curtain frames the double portrait, together with a coat of arms. The effect is somewhat theatrical: in the background are the ramparts of Nancy and La Romaine, Deruet's luxurious residence, where Louis XIII and his Queen stayed in 1633.
Part of a sketchbook comprising 168 drawings covering a variety of periods and subjects, this is a preparatory study for a much re-worked etching of which five states are known. The dedication "To Claude Deruet, Equerry, Knight of the Order of Portugal, His loyal friend. Jacques Callot" appears for the first time in the third state, together with a poem sometimes attributed to Callot. The sketchily-indicated background scene, in Nancy, can be identified with some precision: to the left is the Rue des Moulins, where it meets the Rue de l'Eglise; to the right are two symmetrical towers marking the bastions of Haussonville and Vaud?mont, and the belltower of the church of Saint- Epvre. The Carmelite church, the setting for Deruet's masterly decorations (now lost) under the patronage of the Prince of Phalsbourg, is half-hidden behind the figure of the painter. The background features a number of new landmarks in Nancy's rapidly-evolving townscape; similarly, the figures' costumes reflect the latest trends in contemporary fashion.
Deruet received letters patent of nobility in 1621, and by 1645 had been made a Knight of the Order of St Michel, by Louis XIII. In his native Nancy, he was apprenticed to Bellange (the official court painter and master of the revels at the court of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine) before studying for a time in Rome. Upon his return, he succeeded Bellange as the region's leading painter. Charles V accorded Deruet the title of 'gentleman' on 5 March 1632, and this double portrait was probably made to mark the occasion. Standing almost full face, Deruet extends his left arm above the head of his son, who wears a plumed hat inspired by one of his father's paintings and carries a musket over his shoulder. In the etching's second state the plumes have disappeared from the child's hat and a vertical line separates the verses of poetry at the bottom. In the third and fourth states the contours of the faces are re-worked, Deruet's right thumb is outlined up to the lace at his wrist, the muzzle of the child's musket is shaded, and his curls and the plumes of his hat are thicker. A chimney has been added to the roof of La Romaine (evidence, perhaps, of Deruet's increasing prosperity) and the floor to the left has been completely re-worked.
The meticulous alterations made by Callot to the different states of the etching testify to the importance of this commission for the artist. The confidence and brio of the pen strokes and washes provide a fine contrast to the lightly-sketched panorama in the background. Callot's sweeping, vigorous drawing gives his figures a monumental grandeur which the finished etching fails to convey: Deruet's face shows greater concentration in the drawing, his gaze is more direct and the pronounced features have about them a frankness that is lost in the much re-worked print. In this stiff, carefully-composed portrait, the theatrical presentation of the child and the treatment of the floor remind us of Callot's principal interests, in the aristocratic life of his time and the Italian Commedia dell'Arte.
"The bathers" (I Bagnanti)
This was Callot's first approach to The Bathers, the fourth of the ten engravings in the Italian Landscapes series, published circa 1630-35 by Israël Henriet. It shows a highly uncharacteristic study of a landscape: a view of Florence, where Callot lived from 1612 to 1622. Another sheet that used to be in the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire (Chatsworth), and some isolated studies of bathers, are preparatory studies for the etching Callot produced at the end of his time in Florence.
"The bathers" (I Bagnanti), engraving, Lieure 270, 2° state of 3. (Image digitally reversed)
Engraved in reverse, with a few variations in the details, this is a view of the Arno in Florence, upriver from the Ponte della Grazie. (For the purposes of comparison, I have digitally reversed the image of the engraving displayed above.) In the foreground on the left is the San Niccolo Mill, which was destroyed in 1870, while some bathers are swimming around a boat. The Ponte Vecchio is shown in the background, but was ultimately left out of the etching. The site was not identified from Callot's drawing, but from a work by Federico Zuccaro on the same subject. Comparing these two works, we can see Callot's specific characteristics as a landscape artist: unlike Zuccaro, he does not seek to provide a realistic depiction of the site, but treats the landscape as a succinctly evoked piece of scenery.
During the early seventeenth century, landscape art was developing as an independent genre on an unprecedented scale, particularly in the cosmopolitan environment of Rome. Examples by Poussin, Lorrain, Dughet, Focus, and this one by Callot, demonstrate this. His probable links with Filippo Napoletano, whom he got to know during his time in Florence, would seem to explain his interest in and sensitivity to the effects of light in the south. Here he describes the essential elements of the landscape with broad strokes of wash, in direct opposition to the areas of white that he leaves blank. His poetic sense of light and space makes him reminiscent of Lorrain.
Besides this ensemble composition study, there is a corresponding etching and also another ensemble study (previously in the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire, Chatsworth) in black chalk and bistre wash, as well as some isolated studies of bathers. In these, as in the ensemble composition studies, the figures are very small and are sketched lightly and quickly with energetic, vigorous strokes. The precise representation of their postures indicates that they were directly observed from reality, while Callot's skill with the pen and speed with the brush breathe life into this crowd with true clarity.
Two street traders, one with a basket and the other standing by a carcass (recto)
Chalk (red and black), pen and ink on paper (cream)
Height: 8.5 cm; Width: 11.3 cm
Tethered horse, and man standing by with arms folded (recto)
Chalk (red and black), pen and ink on paper (cream)