print study / drawing
A study for Signora Lavinia in the series of etchings known as "I balli di Sfessania", (Lieure 381); woman standing facing right, wearing a long dress and plumed hat, her hands tucked into her skirts. c.1622 Black chalk, with indented contours
- 1622 (circa)
- Height: 65 millimetres
- Width: 42 millimetres
This is one of 16 drawings (four of which are offets) from the same source (1895,1214.78-93) that are related to his etched series, 'Balli di sfessania' (Meaume 641-664; Lieure 379-402; complete set in BM 1861,0713.875-1658). The series subject matter was clarified by Donald Posner's article ('Jacques Callot and the Dances Called Sfessania', "The Art Bulletin", 59, 2, 1977, pp. 203-216) that identified 'sfessania' as a Neapolitan dialect word for a moresca dance (a war-like dance inspired by the Christian defeat of the moors from which the English morris dance takes its name). The 'sfessania' appears to have derived from the Neapolitan rendering of what the Maltese called the moresca, and in Naples it developed a local character by including elements of a local dance and song, the 'Lucia Canazza'. The inscriptions and protagonists in Callot's series are inspired by poetry celebrating the 'death dance' that brought Lucia back to life.
The series is generally thought to have been planned in Italy but the corresponding prints not executed until after Callot's return to Nancy in 1621. The BM drawings and similar ones in the Hermitage, St Petersburg (Ternois 1962, nos. 663-728) date from either the end of the Florentine period or soon after his return to France.
The present figure was etched in reverse for Signora Lavinia in Lieure 381; Meaume 643 (BM impression 1861,0713.877).
Lit.: D. Ternois, 'Jacques Callot: catalogue complet de son oeuvre dessiné', Paris, 1962, no. 671, p. 107; H. Diane Russell, in exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Jacques Callot, Prints & Related Drawings', 1975, no. 80, p. 120; D. Ternois in exhib. cat., Nancy, Musée Historique Lorrain, 'Jacques Callot: 1592-1635', 1992, no. 139, p. 218
French Roy XVIIc
1975, Washington, NGA, Callot, no. 80
1992 Jun-Sep, Nancy, Musée Historique Lorrain, Jacques Callot, no. 139
Acquired from Messrs Colnaghi in exchange for duplicates.
Prints & Drawings
Lavinia, one of several studies for a series of etchings known as "I balli" or "Balli Di Spessantia", (Meaume 643); woman standing facing r, wearing a long dress and plumed hat, her hands tucked into her skirts Black chalk
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Object reference number: PDO2190
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