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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Jacques Callot
French, 1592–1635

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Etching, 1635
William J. Hitchcock Fund in memory of Grace J. Hitchcock, 2000.61

Callot entertains us with hundreds of tiny, spirited devils sent to temp and torment Saint Anthony. Many are seen cavorting with musical instruments humorously adapted from weapons of war. Saint Anthony is hard to find, cowering in his cave at the lower right. A winged monster—Lucifer himself?—dominates the proscenium arch framing the print, both a threatening and a compelling presence.The translated inscription:
To the most illustrious man, Lord and Master Louis Phélypeaux, Seignior of Lavrilière, Count of the Consistory, man of the sacred commands, Jacques Callot vows, dedicates and consecrates. Shapeless specters, monsters stabled in obscure hiding places, broke out of their lower world and in close marching order profane the world and light with deadly poisons. The shapes of so many crimes transformed the hermitage into Erebus. In the meantime what are you doing under the vault of the huge rock, holy old man: you feel the force of so great enemies and despise them? Nothing mortal inspires you, nor do alluring Joys move your heart; neither Love breaks it nor death frightens. The mind fixed on heaven and restoring its strength from the Source, endures on earth the battles, which he derides, in the upper air.