Jacques CALLOT: Les Supplices - 1634
Etching, 112 x 214 mm. Lieure 1402, 2nd state (of 8), Meaume 665, 2nd state (of 7). Only a few very scarce proofs of the 1st state are known, before the s as a substitution for the t in Meschant.
Impression of the 2nd state (of 8 according to Lieure) on laid watermarked paper. The watermark is close to the Angel (Lieure no. 26) and similar to the Figure (Laurentius 401a).
Superb impression of the 2nd state: the tower with the two windows, the Virgin with child and the background, including the smallest figures, are clearly printed; part of the lines used for engraving the verses are yet visible.
Impression trimmed on the right and left borderlines (the first loop of the capital letter V is missing), on or 1 mm inside the upper borderline; 3 mm of the blank part under the verses are trimmed.
Lieure notes the “Angel” watermark (n°26) on an impression of the first state of the Combat à la barrière (Combat at the Barrier, 1627) (Lieure, p. 109). Laurentius notes the watermark, which he describes as a “Figure”, and which is similar to the one in our impression, on paper manufactured by the papermaker Duchesne in Pierrefonds (Vosges) and used in Lillo (near Anvers) in 1635 (Laurentius, p. 26).
Meaume considers the 1634 etching Les Supplices to be Callot's masterpiece.
Considered to be extremely rare (RRR) by both Meaume and Lieure, impressions of the second state of Les Supplices are even more rarely printed as neatly as this particular copy. The tower, the Virgin with child and the houses in the background at the end of the two streets on the right and on the left, are clearly delineated. This superb impression of Les Supplices delicately renders the delicate gradation of the light from the back of the square where the tower and the buildings in the distance are bathed in pale sunlight, to the foreground where the sun on the contrary accentuates the lines and delineates the silhouettes more sharply. This effect which plays a major part in this print is lost in later impressions of the second state.
References: E. Meaume, Catalogue de l’œuvre gravé de Jacques Callot, 1852, online edition; Jules Lieure, Jacques Callot : Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre gravé, Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1989; Theo and Franz Laurentius, Watermarks 1600-1650 found in the Zeland Archives, Hes & De Graaf, 2007.