Jacques Callot, Peasant Woman Turned to the Left
, from Varie Figure
, c.1617-1621. Etching (1st state), 82 x 91 mm. University of Pittsburgh Art Gallery (2010.1.98)
University Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
DescriptionThere are many debates in the literature about the creation of Callot’s Varie Figure, mostly because these 16 small pieces are so similar to the Caprices (published under the Italian title Capricci di varie figure). Both series depict various subjects, peasants, grotesques and Florentine landscapes. In the 1920s, Jules Lieure argued that Varie Figure was a first attempt to work with the hard ground. He suggests that the etcher might have re-used some of the plates for the Nancy version of the Caprices. More recently, Daniel Ternois has proposed that Varie Figure was created later than 1617, in Nancy (hence, after the first version of the Caprices), basing his theory in part on the stylistic differences between both series. The double figures standing in various poses indicate that the series probably served as drawing lessons. In this print, the character on the right is delineated by a single line, whereas the one on the left is modeled volumetrically. The background, as we see on this print, was added on the second state, suggesting that Callot was looking to add depth and perspective to these simple compositions.