CALLOT (1592-1635) AND THE MISERIES OF THE THIRTY
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.
One of the Seven Deadly Sins - The Angry Warrior
Portrait of Callot by Vorsterman
Miseries of War" - "Plundering a Large
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
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,"
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,
JACQUES CALLOT (1592-1635)
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)
of the peasants (85K)
War and Art
a. The Siege of Breda (1627-1629)
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)
Howard Daniel, p. xxii
b. The Beggars and the Bohemians
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)
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.
of the Pistols
d. Military Exercises
e. The Tortures and the Temptation
f. "La Vie des Soldats"-
The Small Miseries of War (1632-33)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Dianne Russell, p. xviii.
g. "La Vie des Soldats"
- The Large Miseries of War (1632-33)
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
"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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
h. Other Works