La Tentation de St. Antoine [The Temptation of St. Anthony]
36.3 cm x 47.3 cm (14 5/16 in. x 18 5/8 in.)
(Nancy, France, 1592 - 1635, Nancy, France)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Callot’s etching presents the tormenting of the hermit saint, at lower right, as fantastic theater. Actual stagings of the kind, thin in narrative but spectacular in effect, entertained during the intermissions in the most sophisticated musical performances of the late 16th century. A staple at the Medici court, these intermezzi are the ancestors of modern opera, if not a recent trend on Broadway. The largest and most elaborate etchings of Callot’s maturity attain a fully Baroque light and movement, but persist in the compositional structures, moreover the spirit of sheer entertainment, of these intermezzi. The Temptation of Saint Anthony is the most extravagant and celebrated.