Monday, 6 March 2017

Jacques Callot’s etching, “Avarice”, 1618–c.1625


Jacques Callot (1592– 1635)
“Avaritia” (Avarice), 1618–c.1625, from the series of seven plates, “The Seven Deadly Sins”
Etching (with some engraving) on laid paper trimmed on, or within, the platemark.
Size:  (slightly irregularly cut sheet) 7.7 x 5.8 cm
Lettered with title

Meaume 1860 163.I (Meaume, Édouard 1860, "Recherches sur la vie et les ouvrages de Jacques Callot", 2 volumes, Paris); Lieure 1927 360.I (Lieure, J, 1927. “Jacques Callot”, 3 vols, Paris, Editions de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Avarice: old female figure, turned to right, holding a bag of coins and looking at one through spectacles; with demon hovering over, and toad and riches at his feet; on white ground.” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1560727&partId=1&searchText=callot+Avaritia&page=1)

The curator of the BM offers the following information about the series:
“From a series of seven plates representing the deadly sins; according to Felibien, the plates were engraved after Poccetti, but this remain to be confirmed.
The series may have been executed after Callot's return in Nancy, or while he was still in Florence (Meaume, for one, dates it from 1620); some of the figures are indeed reminiscent of the demons in the temptation of St Anthony he engraved during his stay in the Italian city.” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1560608&partId=1&searchText=deadly+sins&page=1)

Condition: crisp, faultless impression (undoubtedly a lifetime impression based on the quality) trimmed on, or within, the platemark. The print is in near pristine condition and hinged to a mount support.

I am selling this VERY small etching with a very powerful image for AU$200 (currently US$151.82/EUR143.40/GBP123.76 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this iconic image of greed, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


There are two reasons why I am showing a stamp beside this print. The first is to illustrate by the comparison how small the etching is in physical size. The second reason is to explain why Callot is so celebrated as a printmaker: he is one of the very few artists who have the distinction of being able inscribe on an etching plate (viz. “Handball on the Piazza Croce”) no bigger than four postage stamps, what the French scholar Sadoul claims are “four or five hundred figures, twenty horses, and ten carriages or wagons” (see Howard Daniel’s 1974, “Callot’s Etchings”, p. xvi). Although I worry about Sadoul’s need to make such a tally, this is an incredible achievement! (For those who may wish to verify Sadoul’s claim, the British Museum holds a copy of the print under discussion: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=118679001&objectId=1563659&partId=1

Beyond Callot's incredible dexterity to add detail to minute etching plates, he is even more famous for the technical advances that he made to the art of etching.

Arguably, his most significant advance was the development of a new type of etching needle: the “échoppe”. This specialised needle has an elliptical end allowing an etcher to create swelling lines in the manner of an engraver’s strokes. Understandably, Callot’s invention of the échoppe is a milestone in the history of printmaking.

Another major technical achievement was Callot's use lute-maker’s varnish as an etching plate ground. According to Wikipedia, this stronger ground than the previous wax-based formulas “enabled lines to be etched more deeply, prolonging the life of the plate in printing, and also greatly reducing the risk of ‘foul-biting" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Callot).

There is one more very important advance, and this was Callot’s practice of stopping out lines during the etching process so that the line work in his prints had a greater variation of tonal strengths.





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