Callot, James

, a famous engraver, son of John. Callot, herald of arms in Lorrain, was descended from an ancient and noble family, and born at Nancy in 1593. He cherished almost from hig infancy a taste and spirit for the belles lettres, as well as for the fine arts. When he was only twelve years old he set off for Rome, without the knowledge of his parents, in order to see the many curiositjes there he had heard so much talk of; but his money failing, he joined himself to a party of Bohemians, who were going into Italy, and went with them to Florence. | There he was taken under the protection of an officer of the great duke, who placed him to learn designing under Remigio Canta Gailina, a skilful painter and engraver. Afterwards he got to Rome, where he was known by a merchant of Nancy, and sent immediately home to his parents. When he was about 14 years of age he left home again, and directed his course towards Rome but being discovered by his elder*- brother, who was at Turin about business, he was brought buck a second time to Nancy. His passion, however, for seeing Rome being still ardent and irresistible, his father at length gave him leave to go in the train of a gentleman whom the duke of Lorrain sent to the pope.

When he arrived at Rome, he learned to design and engrave first with Giulio Parigii, and afterwards with Philip Thomassin of Troyes in Champagne, who had settled in that city; but this latter having a beautiful wife, who paid some marked attentions to Callot, a disagreement took place, and our young artist removed to Florence, where the great duke employed him with several other excellent workmen. Callot at that time began to design in miniature, and had so happy a genius for it, that he became incomparable in that way. He quitted his graver, and used aquafortis, because this was both the quickest way of working, and gave more strength and spirit to the performance, After the great duke’s death, he began to think of returning to his own country; and about that time, prince Charles, coming through Florence, and being uncommonly struck with some of his curious pieces, persuaded Callot to go along with him to Lorrain, and promised him a good salary from his father-in-law Henry, the reigning duke. Callot attended him, and had a considerable pension settled upon him; and, being in his 32d year, he took a wife, who was a woman of family. His reputation was now spread all over Europe, and the infanta of Spain sent for him to Brussels, when the marquis of Spinola was laying siege to Breda, that he might first draw, and afterwards, engrave, as he did, the s:ege of that town. He went to France in 1628, when Louis XIII. made him design and engrave the siege of Rochelle and the isle of Roe*. Aftec he had been amply recompensed by that monarch, he returned to Nancy; where he continued to follow the business of engraving so assiduously, that he is said to have left 1500 pieces of his own an incredible number for so | short a life as his! When the duke of Orleans, Gaston of France, withdrew into Lorrain, he made him engrave several silver stamps, and went to his house two hours every day to learn to draw. In 1031, when the king of France had reduced Nancy, he sent for Callot to engrave that new conquest, as he had done Rochelle; hut Callot begged to be excused, because that being a Lorrainer he could not do any thing so much against the honour of his prince and country. The king was not displeased at his answer, but said, “The duke of Lorrain was very happy in having such faithful and affectionate subjects.” Some of the courtiers insinuated, that he ought to be forced to do it; to which Callot, when it was told him, replied with great firmness, “That he would sooner disable his right hand than be obliged to do any thing against his honour.” The king then, instead of forcing him, endeavoured to draw him into France, by offering to settle upon him a pension of 3000 livres; to which Callot answered, “That he could not leave his country and birth-place, but that there he would always be ready to serve his majesty.” Nevertheless, when he afterwards found the ill condition Lorrain was reduced to by the taking of Nancy, he projected a scheme of returning with his wife to Florence; but was hindered from executing it by his death, which happened on the 28th of March, 1636, when he was only 43 years of age. He was buried in the cloister of the cordeliers at Nancy, where his ancestors lay; and had an epitaph inscribed upon a piece of black marble, on which was engraved a half portrait of himself. He left an excellent moral character behind him, and died with the universal esteem of men of taste.

This artist engraved in several styles; the first of which was an imitation of his master Canta Gallina. He afterwards worked altogether with the graver; but without success. His next style was the mixture of the point and the graver, with coarse broad hatchings in the shadows. But his best manner, is that which appears to have been executed with the greatest freedom, by which he has- expressed, as we may say, with a single stroke, variety of character, and correctness of design. He is said to have been the first who used hard varnish in etching, which has been found much superior to that which was before adopted. The fertility of invention, and the vast variety, found in the works of this excellent artist, are astonishing. It could Jiarclly have been supposed possible to combine so great a | number of figures together as he has done, and to vary the attitudes, without forced contrast, so that all of them, whether single figures or groupes, may be easily distinguished from each other, even in the masses of shadow; more especially when it is considered that they are often exceedingly minute. On a cursory view of some of his most admired pieces, the whole appears confused, and without harmony; but a careful examination discovers the richness, the beauty, the taste, and the judgment which are bestowed on the disposition of the figures, the management of the groupes, and the variety and propriety of the attitudes. The works of this master are very numerous and various. In representation of all the varieties of human life, from beggars and peasants to knights and nobles, he excelled; characterising all with the nicest touches of nature. Of his subjects, many are of the most painful and shocking kind, such as public executions, the miseries of war, and the like; many are grotesque and fanciful, and exhibit a strong imagination. Among his most admired prints, Strutt enumerates: “The Murder of the InnocentSjJ’ of which that engraved at Florence is most rare; a fine impression of it being found with difficulty;” The Marriage of Cana in Galilee,“from Paolo Veronese;” The Passion of Christ,“the first impressions of which are very scarce” St. John in the island of Palma;“” The Temptation of St. Anthony;“”The Punishments,“exhibiting the execution of several criminals;” The Miseries of War;“” The great Pair of Florence;“The little Fair,” otherwise called “The Players at Benti,” one of the scarcest of Callot’s prints;“” The Tilting, or the New Street at Nancy;“The Garden of Nancy;” “View of the Pont Neuf;” “View of the Louvre;” and “Four Landscapes.1

1

Moreri.—Strutt.—Felibien’s Entretions sur les vies des peintres. - Perrault les Hommes lllustres.—Evelyn’s Sculpture, p. 87.