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Work Italian Landscape with View over the Arno

Department of Prints and Drawings: 17th century

Paysage italien avec vue sur l'Arno

Prints and Drawings
17th century

Author(s):
Boyer Sarah

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.

A view of Florence

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. 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.

A landscape artist close to Claude Lorrain

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.

An extensively prepared engraving

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.

Bibliography

D. Ternois, L'Art de Jacques Callot, Paris, F. de Nobele, 1962, p. 322, n 21a, d.D. Ternois, in Jacques Callot : 1592-1635, cat. exp. Nancy, Musée historique lorrain, 13 juin-14 septembre 1992, pp. 299-302, n 386.D. Ternois, Jacques Callot (1592-1635) : actes du colloque organisé par le Service culturel du musée du Louvre et la ville de Nancy à Paris et à Nancy les 25, 26 et 27 juin 1992, Paris, Klincksieck, 1993.A. Brothers, Worlds in miniature : the etchings of Jacques Callot and Wenceslaus Hollar, cat. exp. Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Robert Raynor Gallery, 20 mars-15 juin 1998.D. Ternois, Jacques Callot : catalogue de son oeuvre dessiné, supplément (1962-1998), Paris, F. de Nobele , 1999.

Technical description

  • LETHIEN, cutler

    Pair of knives

    1762-68

    Paris

  • Gold, steel, enamel

    H. 18.4 cm; W. 32.3 cm

  • Puiforcat collection; acquired in 1955

    3925116

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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