Jacques Callot

La Tentation de St Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony)

La Tentation de St Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony) by Jacques Callot

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Creating magnificent dramatic effects was a central focus of artists who worked in the court of Cosimo II de' Medici of Florence. Jacques Callot's fluid handling of line was perfect for depicting these grotesque and hellish Bosch-like figures, and the architectural structures that dwarf St Anthony in his alcove. The hallucinations brought on by fasting in the desert were said to take two distinct forms - the onslaught of evil spirits as evidenced in this work, or an attempted seduction by tantalising women. Hoards of devilish creatures cling like bats to the columns of dark rock that flank both sides in a proscenium arch, while a veritable torrent of winged beasts, many with devils riding astride them, flock in from all directions. Callot perfected the technique of multiple biting, thereby creating different strengths of line - the darkest in the foreground were etched several times, while the lighter ones in the background were stopped much sooner. The tapering and swelling of the lines, imitating the character of engraved lines, was created with the aid of a special etching tool called an échoppe. Callot etched an earlier version of the subject, but made few impressions from the plate. It contained a vast plain with a river flowing through it, with even greater sugar-loaf rocks thrust high into the air, but lacked the architectural details seen here. (from The Guide, 2001)

Title
La Tentation de St Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony)
Artist/creator
Production date
1634
Medium
etching with engraving
Dimensions
360 x 467 mm
Inscription
in pencil C29882 M139 C 1416 IV of 5 l.r.
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1957
Accession no
1957/31/3
Copyright
No known copyright restrictions
Department
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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