Jacques Callot, “The Temptation of St. Anthony”

by John Holbo on February 11, 2019

I’m done with Art Young, but I had an afterthought. My final quote from Young mentioned earlier imaginative greats – like Jacques Callot. In my experience, everyone knows about Hieronymous Bosch but, oddly, fewer are familiar with Callot. So I uploaded one of his more impressive pieces to Flickr (I just snagged it from Wikimedia). I can’t say it’s Seussian, exactly. But it’s pretty great old stuff. From 1635.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Jacques Callot



oldster 02.11.19 at 10:56 am

“In my experience, everyone knows about Hieronymous Bosch….”

I felicitate you on your experiences.

Callot is new to me, as you predicted, and I agree it is worth a look. Like Bosch, he has an obsession with bung-holes, and the entry therein and exit therefrom of foreign objects. It had never occurred to me to conceptualize the touch-hole of a muzzle-loading cannon as it’s anus, but of course the thought was there all along in calling it the “breech.”

Nice that the animated cannon-beast has traded its front legs for wheels. Also, the lobster night-watchman in the lower right corner is very nice.

Poor St. Anthony — does he have any assistants? Any angels or ministers of grace to defend him? I see nothing but demons everywhere — even the battles seem to pit demons against demons.


Peter T 02.11.19 at 11:45 am

From a reference in one of Patrick O’Brien’s books I had always thought St Anthony’s temptations were amatory rather than martial. He does seem more threatened than tempted.


oldster 02.11.19 at 12:02 pm


“I can’t say it’s Seussian, exactly.”

You can’t, because you are a responsible scholar writing under your own name.

But as an anonymous rando, I am happy to say it. It’s Seussian!

The troops of fantastic beasts, the sense of pomp and parade, the chimerical combinations of body-parts, the mecho-animals and animated machines, the swagger and bravura of the lines — there are lots of similarities.


LFC 02.14.19 at 1:09 am

I had guessed that probably the only book on my shelves that might contain a Callot image is Wallerstein, Modern World-System vol. 1, and, on checking, it does: Callot’s engraving “The Grand-Duke [of Tuscany] has the port of Livorno fortified,” done betw 1614 and 1620, reproduced at the start of ch.3. Very different subject (and hence depiction) than “The Temptation of St. Anthony.”


Another Nick 02.14.19 at 3:02 pm

Cranach the Elder from 1506 was getting a bit Seussian. That bridge is interesting too. It looks kind of modern and futuristic:



John Holbo 02.14.19 at 9:11 pm

That’s a good one, Another Nick!

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