Updated: March 14, 2022



These Study Guides on War and Art were originally prepared for a course entitled "Responses to War: An Intellectual and Cultural History" given in the Department of History at The University of Adelaide between 1989 and 1999.

Banner Art


One of the Seven Deadly Sins - The Angry Warrior
 Portrait of Callot by Vorsterman


 "Large Miseries of War" - "Plundering a Large Farmhouse"


A good online source for Callot's etchings (over 600) is FAMSF-Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Good on art and culture - Herbert Langer, The Thirty Years Wars, trans. C.SW.V. Salt (Dorset Press, 1990).

Peter Paret, Imagined Battles: Reflections of War in European Art (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997). Chap. 3 "The Revenge of the Peasants," pp. 31-39.

Callot's Etchings, ed. Howard Daniel (New York: Dover Publications, 1974).

Jacques Callot. Prints and Related Drawings, ed. H. Diane Russell (Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1975), "The Military," pp. 207-269.

Georges Sadoul, Jacques Callot, miroir de son temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1969). Chapter 5 "Les misères et les malheurs de la guerre," pp. 271-355.

Jacques Callot, Das gesamte Werk Handzeichungen, ed. Thomas Schröder (Rogner und Bernhard).

J. Lieure, Jacques Callot. Catalog of the Graphic Works (New York: Collectors Editions, 1969). Vol. VII, pp. 653-1428.

Esther Averill, Eyes on the World: The Story and Work of Jacques Callot - His Gypsies, Beggars, Festivals, "Miseries of War" and other famous Etchings and Engravings together with an Account of his Days (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1969).

Daniel Ternois, L'art de Jacques Callot (Paris: F. de Noble, 1962).

Daniel Ternois, Jacques Callot: Catalogue complet de son oeuvre dessiné (Paris: F. de Noble, 1961).


JACQUES CALLOT (1592-1635)


The 17thC Lorraine (now part of France but then an independent Duchy) "French" engraver Callot lived through the 30 Years War and depicted aspects of the war in a series of etchings known as "The Miseries of War" (1632). Famous etcher who worked for some of the most illustrious men of the early 17th century - Cosimo II de'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, the dukes of Lorraine, Louis XIII King of France, and Spanish Infanta, Isabella. Duchy of Lorraine (JC's homeland) small independent country at mercy of larger neighbours. German Protestant mercenary leader invaded Lorraine on behalf of French King Louis XIII in 1622. Contemporary of JC, Pierre Vuarin, described invasion in his journal:

In transit they killed everyone they encountered as if it were open warfare. They burnt villages raped girls and women, pillaged and damaged churches and altars, carried away everything of value and did unheard of damage even though His Highness (Duke Henri II) provisioned them. Further they cut growing corn as feed for their horses which they stabled in churches. Everywhere they did infinite damage, stealing furniture and livestock, which they managed to discover even when hidden in the remoteness of woods. For five whole days they (the Prince of Phalsbourg and his men who were supposed to be repelling the invaders) lived off the country, pillaging and extorting money like the enemy forces... The poor villagers returning to their villages after the passing of the soldiery picked up infections from human and animal carcasses left behind by the marauders. A third died from dissentry and other infectious diseases in the villages through which the soldiers had passed. (1)

"Small Miseries" - Revenge of the peasants (85K)
1. Howard Daniel, p. xix

War and Art

a. The Siege of Breda (1627-1629)


The Siege of Breda (1627-9) in 6 sections -

Accepted commission from Infanta Isabella, Spanish regent of Lowlands to commemorate capture of Dutch fortress of Breda 1624-5. Futile military act which contributed to decline of Spanish. JC visited Breda in 1625 and in 1629 6 plates of "Siege of Breda" appeared. Daniel describes it as "one of the greatest anti-war works ever conceived by an artist." (1).

JC new combination of arts of cartography and scenography (perspective scenes). Military maps showed fortifications and troop deployments. To this JC added striking visually cohesive scene with placement of soldiers engaged in various activities in foreground. More technical features in vast background. Spinola, commander-in-chief of the Spanish forces in the Netherlands, laid siege to Breda, in Northern Brabant, a fortified town confluence of Merk and Aa rivers, August 1624. Town protected roads to Utrecht and Amsterdam. Dutch army resisted for 11 months. Surrended June 1625. JC commissioned by Queen Isabella to record siege. JC visited Breda July 1627. Research JC did for "Siege" etching in Lorraine, Netherlands and France led him to confront horrors and destruction of war.

"Siege of Breda" - Part 5 (102K)
1. Howard Daniel, p. xxii

b. The Beggars and the Bohemians (or Gypsies)


JC depicted consequences of war on noncombatants caught up in 30 Years War in etchings "The Beggars", "The Bohemians" (or "Gypsies") (probably disbanded mercenaries, other veterans, deserters, and camp followers) and also material which would be used later in series of panels known as"The Miseries of War" and the large "Miseries of War" (1632-33).


c. Cavalry Combats (1632-34)


2 small etchings 1632-34. Anonymous cavalry battles. Contrast with huge siege etchings and pistol and sword fights. Use of pistols by cavalry new development during 30 Years War. Gustave Adolphus of Sweden sent cavalry armed with pistols into battle. First shoot enemy and then finish them off with swords.

War of the Pistols

d. Military Exercises


Didactic military books common at this time. JC imbues figures with sense of vitality and elegant movement more suited to show than actual combat. Shows drills with 3 kinds of weapons used at the time pike (used to protect those with firearms when reloading), musket, cannon. Also anachronistic use of halberd.

"Military Exercises" - Drill with Halberds

e. The Tortures and the Temptation of Anthony


Satanic forces in military garb:

The Tortures and Temptation of St. Anthony (1634) (128K)

f. "La Vie des Soldats"- The Small Miseries of War (1632-33)


France invaded Lorraine and attacked and pillaged Nancy 1633 and JC along with other citizens forced to swear oath of fealty to King Louis XIII. Produced 2 series of etchings "small" (6 plates) and "large" (18 plates) miseries of war composed 1632-33. "The Large Miseries of War" published in Paris in 1633 . Described by Dianne Russell as "pungent tableau of violence in which soldiers are, by turn, ruthless perpetrators or themselves hapless victims." (1).

Original title "la vie des soldats". Accurate reflection of life of soldier in 17th century. From enlistment to distribution of rewards by commander. Include fighting the enemy, destroying civilian property, murder and rape of civilians. Retaliation by civilians, punished as criminals by military. Veterans battered and mutilated, begging and dying.

  • Fronticepiece (85K)
  • Camp scene (77K) (only one not to appear in large miseries) - tents pitched for camp. Soldiers eating and drinking around a table under a tree. One is smoking a pipe, another is seated on a barrel.
  • Attack on the highway (77K) - bandits attack travellers. On the left they rob a dead man, in the middle they attack a man on horseback, on the right they kill a fallen man. Above a corpse hangs from a tree.
  • Devastation of a monastery (85K) -soldiers pillage a monastry and burn a church after having ransacked it. On the left they are taking the nuns away on horseback (to rape elsewhere?), at the left they have made prisoner a priest with his hands tied behind his back.
  • Pillaging and burning a village (85K) - on the left attacking a village with a church and other buildings on fire, on the right loading their booty onto a cart, also gathering the goats and sheep to lead off.
  • Revenge of the peasants (85K) - Soldiers are surprised in a small village by peasants who use scythes, threshing sticks and other farm tools. On the right one is using a stolen musket to shoot.
  • the Hospital (77K) - courtyard of a hospital where wounded and maimed soldiers are heading for the door where they are greeted by a priest. To the right another priest is bending over a dying soldier lying on a straw matress.

"Small Miseries" - Revenge of the peasants (85K)
1. Dianne Russell, p. xviii.

g. "La Vie des Soldats" - The Large Miseries of War (1632-33)


Large Miseries forms a story in panels. Shows recruitment of troops, battle, scenes of plunder and other crimes, then variety of punishments, hospital and dying soldiers, revenge by peasants, final scene distribution of legal rewards by prince. Expresses strong Christian view that wrongdoers will be punished directly by the Christian Prince or indirectly through the just actions of others (peasants' revenge). Expressed somewhat forlorn hope that in spite of chaos and lawlessness of 30 Years War, justice would triumph.

"The Large Miseries of War" show how injured and dying had been cared for centuries. None provided by armies in which they served. Left to fend for themselves. More died after battle than during from infection and ilness. In 2 etchings Callot shows this neglect and suffering:

  • Title page (85K) - rectangular title above which are flags, banners and trompets, below which tools of war such as cannons, drums, swords. Surrounded by officiers and page boys. Right a soldier crowned with a laurel and a sword in his right hand and a page holding his helmet. Left crowned soldier with a cane and page holding sword and shield.
  • the Recruitment of Troops (77K) - right a group of recruits with the hats under their arms, an officer takes their details seated at a drum. Troops issued with an arquebus and then at right an officer seated beneath a tree issues pay. Then troops are drilled in two units one in the centre and the other further to the right. behind them are two units of cavalry. Left the crennelated walls of a town. Right the tents of the camp.
  • the Battle (77K) - foreground cavalrymen fight with sword and pistols towards the left, fallen men and horses on ground. Right background units of infantrymen fight. Behind them is fort from which cannons fire sending smoke into the sky.
  • Scene of pillage (77K) - country inn showing sign hanging on left. Having stayed the night the troops pillage the inn and make off with all property including linen, pots and pans, mugs.
  • Plundering a large farmhouse (85K) - in the kitchen of a farmhouse armed men have burst in. The inhabitants are cruelly tortured, Women lower left held by hair, background centre held on bed by 2 men, right through doorway another women on bed. centre left women offering something to have her husband spared from sword thrust. Man on verge of death foreground left, man suspended upside down over fire background left, another man tied hand and foot being executed by sword. Other troops generally looting.
  • Destruction of a convent (85K) - lower left nuns being seized by horsemen. Lower right foot soldiers surround a priest after having stolen his official robes. In centre is church with door facing right with S. Maria above doorway through which soldiers are carrying trunk. Roof on fire. Left background monastry itself is being pillaged and the booty being taken through gate right background.
  • Plundering and burning a village (85K) - armed soldiers pillage and burn a village including small chapel upper centre (cross on left). The inhabitants and livestock are rounded up to taken off as prisoners or booty. Livestock being herded lower right. Man being killed lower left under tree. Grieviing wife and dead husband lower centre.
  • Attack on a coach (85K) - Having probably lain in wait in the trees soldiers ambush a public coach. The coachman lies dead after being thrown from his seat. The travellers are forced to dismount to be robbed and probably killed. Lower left shooting at a traveller on horseback. Behind that two more horseman are attacked one is shooting back with his pistol. Centre right horseman knocked from horse and being killed. Lower centre a dead traveller on foot with his baggage ransacked. Another foot traveller upper left being robbed. Lower right sentry keeps lookout.
  • Discovery of the criminal soldiers (85K) - In the middle of clearing regular soldiers led by an officer on horesback rounds up troops who have hidden in the shrubs and tress. Some still hiding extreme left and right. The renegade troops were probably surprised and left their weapons and armour on the ground. A soldier gathers up weapons on right. The prisoners have their hands tied and are led off to the right.
  • The Strappado (85K) - in a town square the renegade soldiers are tortured/punished by being suspended by their arms tied behind their back from a height and let fall suddenly to a metre above the ground - suffer dislocation and broken bones. Lower right another soldier is being led out to suffer the same fate. Other soldiers and townspeople are watching (example for the soldiers). Centre left four men chained together on a wooden horse (renegade officiers?) also watch.
  • The Hanging (85K) - Compare with Billy Holliday's song "Strange Fruit" about lynching of blacks. We see about 21 men in varying states of decomposition are suspended from a tree as punishment for looting, again watched by assembled troops. Camp tents in background perhaps taking place on parade ground. A priest on a ladder against tree offers cross to 22nd victim who is having a rope tied around his neck. left of ladder another victim is on his knees before receiving benediction from priest. Another victim is being guarded by troops on left. Hats, cloaks and halberds lie on ground. Right of tree 2 victims pass time by playing dice on a drum. Lower right another victim talks with a monk.
  • the Firing squad (77K) - on a training ground soldiers are being executed by firing squad. Centre 2 soldiers fire on blindfolded man tied to a post. other victims lie dead on ground. Lower right another is led in prayer by a hooded monk. Upper left the walls of a town. Upper right the tents of the camp and a hill with a fortress on top.
  • the Stake (85K) - between two columns of troops a renegade soldier is burnt at the stake. Punishment seems to have come very quickly after crime had been committed. Behind is the burning buildings of the village (church) ransacked by the renegades. A second victim is councilled by a monk on right. In foreground a second stake is being prepared. Saw lying on stake. Man digging post hole. Bellows and pot of coals to help get fire started.
  • the Wheel (85K) - similar scene this time inside a walled town. Surrounded by troops is a platform with a wheel upon which is tied a victim. The executioner kills by repeated blows with a heavy stick. A priest offers the cross at the right. Lower left another victim with a cross in hand waits with a monk.
  • the Hospital (85K) - the courtyard of a hospital. Those maimed and crippled by war make their way to the entrance lower left where they are met by a priest/doctor. Centre is a well next to which is a tub for washing. cripples are doused with water. Right a line of maimed receiving food from a large pot.
  • Dying soldiers by the roadside (77K) - road going through village where on both sides are piles of straw and rubbish against which soldiers lie dying Lower right a priest attends to dying soldier. Centre others beg for food or money
  • the peasants avenge themselves (85K) - looting soldiers burdened with their booty are in turn ambushed by peasants hiding in the trees (upper right and left). They attack with farm implements such as scythes, pitch forks and threshing sticks (middle centre) and stolen guns. Lower right a soldier is stabbed with a pitchfork. Lower centre soldiers being stripped of their booty. Lower left dead animals. Upper centre man suspended from tree.
  • Distribution of Rewards (85K) - after the war the prince thanks those (officers) who have performed their duty. Upper centre seated on throne with sceptre in left hand is prince. Surrounded on both sides by gentlemen receiving their share of spoils.

"Large Miseries" - The Hanging (85K)

h. Other Works


Man before Battle