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EYES ON THE WORLD by Esther Averill

EYES ON THE WORLD

The Story and Work of Jacques Callot

By Esther Averill

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1970
Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls

It looks like an art book but it has little of substance to say about art; it reads like a rather young biography but it has little to tell--since there is little known--about Callot's personal life. Repeatedly referring to the great 17th century etcher as "Europe's first great reporter-artist"--and altogether strongest on his relation to historical events (which are developed in detail)--the text makes less of his qualities as a fantasist and almost nothing of the satirical and ironical nature of his commentary. Symptomatically, the derisive "Awarding the Honors of War" scene is omitted from the series of "Large Miseries"--and there are other omissions of a different nature that merely frustrate the reader (e.g. of the portrait of a former rival that was "the most revealing one that Callot ever made"; of a pupil's "intriguing view" of Callot's room, etc.). Lastly--but of prime importance to anyone concerned with Callot's stature as a printmaker--the reproductions are literally a matter of black against white (or rather ivory), and the better he gets, the poorer they become. That is to say that his tonal effects are lost, dark areas become black, the whole is coarsened (for two quite different, equally regrettable results, see "Card Players" and "The Little Trellis"). Enlargement--both noted and unnoted--tends to coarsen throughout, and altogether there is little here of the master who influenced Rembrandt. Although Miss Averill communicates her respect for Callot, neither the exposition nor the illustrations back her up.