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Against Reason Exhibition Cat


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Against Reason Exhibition Cat

  1. 1. Against Reason: Anti/Enlightenment Prints by Callot, Hogarth, Piranesi, and Goya Curated by students in the Exhibition Seminar, Department of Art and Art History, Grinnell College Under the Direction of Assistant Professor of Art History, J. Vanessa Lyon 3 April—August 2, 2015 Faulconer Galery Bucksbaum Center for the Arts Grinnell College Participants in the Exhibition Seminar Fall 2014: Elizabeth Allen ‘16 Timothy McCall ‘15 Mai Pham ‘16 Maria Shevelkina ‘15 Dana Sly ‘15 Hannah Storch ‘16 Emma Vale ‘15
  2. 2. Previous Exhibitions of the Exhibition Seminar Department of Art, Grinnell College Thirty-Three Views of the Floating World: An Exhibition of Japanese Prints Professor Anne Burkus 5 May–18 May, 1987 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library Diversity and Change: Images of the Country and City in 19th and 20th Century Art Professor Susan Strauber 27 November–15 December, 1989 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library The Artist’s Vision Professor Anthony Crowley 3 May–20 May, 1991 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library Images of a Changing World: Modernity in Nineteenth-Century Prints Professor Susan Strauber 30 April–5 June, 1993 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library The Inventive Perspectives of Giovanni Battista Piranesi Professor R.Timothy Chasson 4 May–31 May, 1997 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library In a New Light: African Art at Grinnell College Professor Victoria Rovine 1 May–31 May, 1997 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library Ghost Dance: Exhibiting Paradox Professor Jenny Anger Edward S. Curtis Photogravures. Selections from the Grinnell College Art Collection 28 January–17 March, 2000 Print and Drawing Study Room, Burling Library Walking a Tightrope: German Expressionist Printmaking 1904-1928 Professor Jenny Anger 1 April–21 April, 2002 Faulconer Gallery I Saw It:The Imagined Reality of Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War Professor Susan Strauber 13 August–12 September, 2004 Faulconer Gallery Repeat, Reveal, React: Identities in Flux Professor Jenny Anger 29 January–21 March 2010 Faulconer Gallery Published on the occasion of the exhibition Against Reason: Anti/Enlightenment Prints by Callot, Hogarth, Piranesi, Goya 3 April–2 August 2015 Lender to the Exhibition: University of Iowa Museum of Art Iowa City, Iowa ©2015 Grinnell College Faulconer Gallery, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts 1108 Park Street Grinnell, Iowa 50112-1690 641-269-4660 Essays ©2015 the respective authors. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without written permission from Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College. ISBN: ISBN 978-0-9898825-2-1 Faulconer Gallery Staff Milton Severe, Director of Exhibition Design Daniel Strong, Associate Director and Curator of Exhibitions Kay Wilson, Curator of the Collection Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Community Outreach Lesley Wright, Director Photography of works at Grinnell College by Dan Ferro Catalogue design, Larissa Stalcup
  3. 3. A Word on the Colors: Echoing Enlightenment discourse, Against Reason places printmakers Jacques Callot, William Hogarth, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Francisco Goya y Lucientes in conversation across national and temporal boundaries. Seen in this way, their printed works trouble a monolithic conception of the Enlightenment as an age of pure progress predicated on science and tolerance. Just as these four artists negotiated the strictures and possibilities of the Age of Reason, we continue the process today. To further enact the dialogue, we have chosen to highlight four specific themes that encapsulate or complicate major Enlightenment concerns. Broader contexts of Nationalism (blue), Order (orange), Aesthetics (green) and Religion (red) are signaled through the colored mats framing each print and their duplication in this catalogue.The historically appropriate palette was chosen based on surprisingly vivid and varied paint colors in 18th Century domestic interiors by Robert Adam and his contemporaries. Our admittedly disorderly chromatic taxonomy is offered as a ‘color itinerary.’We invite you to move through the exhibition in whatever irrational manner you choose! But you are also encouraged to link the works through their mat colors. Following this approach, viewers might discover unexpected connections between the images, whether formal or conceptual, historical or technical. While we realize moving unsystematically from wall to wall may go ‘against reason,’ we hope it will produce a new sense of the inter- pictorial and thematic ways in which these remarkable artists speak to, and through, each other to Faulconer visitors today. –The Curators Authors of the Catalogue Entries: EJA Elizabeth Jane Allen ’16 Art History TM Timothy J. McCall ’15 Chemistry/Art History MPP Mai Phuong Pham ’16 French/Art History MS Maria Shevelkina ’15 Art History DBS Dana B. Sly ’15 History/Art History HLS Hannah Lord Storch ’16 Classics/History EEV Emma E. Vale ’15 Art History/Anthropology Table of Contents Preface ..................................................................................... 6 Acknowledgements.................................................................. 7 J. Vanessa Lyon Introduction............................................................................. 8 J. Vanessa Lyon Jacques Callot ........................................................................ 12 William Hogarth................................................................... 30 Giovanni Battista Piranesi..................................................... 48 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes .............................................. 66 Works Cited .......................................................................... 84 Checklist of the Exhibition.................................................... 87
  4. 4. 6 7 Acknowledgements The curators warmly thank the following people, without whom this exhibition would not be possible: Kay Wilson, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Grinnell College, for her expert knowledge, generous advice, and invaluable oversight of the collection; Professor of Art, Matthew Kluber, for an illuminating introduction to printmaking techniques. Professor Jenny Anger, Assistant Professor Marika Knowles, and the members of the Department of Art and Art History, for their support. We are grateful as well to the staff of the Faulconer Gallery and especially, to the incomparable Milton Severe, Director of Exhibition Design, who alternately entertained and tempered our wild ideas with his usual humor and professionalism.Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Community Outreach, helped us consider the various ways in which our exhibition might engage visitors. Lesley Wright, Director of the Faulconer Gallery, offered us savvy guidance and practical advice at every turn; we also appreciate the assistance of Associate Director, Dan Strong. In Grinnell College’s Office of Communication, further thanks go to Jim Powers, Director, for his longtime support. We are especially grateful to the talented Larissa Stal- cup, graphic designer, for transforming our inchoate notions of an Enlightenment-style museum catalogue into a publication of this quality. Beyond the College, we were fortunate indeed to find a generous lending partner in the The University of Iowa Museum of Art. UIMA’s Sarika Sugla, Assistant Curator of the Legacies for Iowa Collections Sharing Project, was with us from the beginning and introduced us ‘in person’ to the University’s excellent collection of works on paper. We at Grinnell College also appreciate the continuing support of UIMA’s Chief Curator, Kathleen A. Edwards.Thanks, too, to Heather V. Vermeulen for an elucidating discussion of 18th century imagery of Atlantic slavery and ecology. Finally, the student curators of the exhibition seminar extend their deepest thanks to their families, friends, and Grinnell College professors—and this professor extends her heartfelt appreciation to Elizabeth,Tim, Mai, Maria, Dana, Hannah, and Emma for their big ideas, hard work, sparkling wit, and unflagging dedication at every stage of this truly collaborative art historical endeavor. – J. Vanessa Lyon Preface Seven student curators joined Assistant Professor of Art History, J. Vanessa Lyon for the exhibition seminar of Fall 2014. What began as a rigorous and enjoyable process of art historical study, writing, and collegial close-looking at some of the most compelling 17th through 19th century etchings and engravings in the distinguished collection of Grinnell College, culminated in an exhibition designed to investigate the varied, often counter-intuitive, print culture of the Enlightenment era. Our core selections range from lesser-known prints by Hogarth and Piranesi, to signature images by Callot and Goya. Students were responsible for all curatorial aspects of this exhibition, from designing the gallery ‘hang’ to composing catalogue entries and wall texts.The exhibition’s range and quality were enhanced by loans from the University of Iowa Museum of Art through their Legacies for Iowa Collections Sharing Project. We find it fitting that this lending initiative, generously supported by the Matthew Bucksbaum family, will bring works from the UIMA to Grinnell College’s Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, home of the Faulconer Gallery.
  5. 5. 8 9 Callot’s lively, bravura draftsmanship may seem at odds with rigid Cartesian method. Yet for some viewers his detailed architecture and diminutive, choreographed figures anticipate a kind of journalistic truth-telling. Callot’s Miseries are thus widely seen as both “bitter social commentaries” and descriptive and empirical accounts of the dreadful conflicts of his age. Praised for his condemnation of the “religious zeal that has fueled the violence” of war, the Baroque artist is accordingly presented as a proto-secularist with a healthy disdain for the Catholic Church verging on anti-clericalism.3 Callot and his Miseries are interpreted differently here. In her provocative and original reading of Callot’s Catholicism, for example, Mai Pham deploys historical and formal analysis to suggest that the (evidently Franciscan) friars who populate many of the Miseries can be understood as benevolent forces of forgiveness rather than mere stand-ins for a feeble and corrupt religious institution.This would be especially intriguing if Callot’s rogue soldiers are meant to represent enemy French Protestant Huguenots. Elizabeth Allen takes on another knee-jerk response to Callot’s graphic violence. Confronting assertions of the artist’s unstinting realism, Allen provides examples of his intention to ‘aestheticize,’ or make visually attractive, even the most potentially gory and horrifying scenes.The viciousness and destruction portrayed in these prints, she claims, should not prevent us from noticing Callot’s canny appeals to Renaissance art and his desire to combine narrative terror and visual pleasure. Born a little more than a century after Callot, William Hogarth (1697-1764), the maverick British painter, printmaker, and art writer, is more familiar to many graphic arts enthusiasts than his prolific predecessor from Lorraine. Yet Callot’s fluid, detailed etching style and efficiently elegant handling of line were highly influential on the young Hogarth, who often copied his prints.The British artist knew the Miseries well and had also studied Callot’s massive multipart wartime treatment of the Siege of La Rochelle (1628). However much he protested the invasion of his homeland by fussy and affected French taste, Hogarth quite successfully, if disingenuously, translated the decorative French rococo into a decidedly hardier English vernacular. As Dana Sly demonstrates in her compelling analyses of Hogarth’s 1738 print series, The Times of the Day (an edition dating from Hogarth’s “lifetime” newly acquired by Grinnell College and shown here for the first time) Hogarth draws on ‘Frenchness’ even as he critiques it in the name of British nationalism. Sly also cleverly identifies formal citations of Callot in the theatrical setting of Hogarth’s last of the Four Stages of Cruelty (1751). Elsewhere in this proto-Gothic cautionary tale, Hogarth’s heartrending imagery shows that the torture of animals— creatures believed by Descartes to lack souls, and therefore feelings—rapidly escalates to cruelty to people, for which the villainous English Nero is justly sent to his tomb. The bizarre and idiosyncratic architectural visions of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) may seem far removed from the meaty moral fare of Hogarth’s London. Here again, however, formal consonances are appreciable in the works of these ostensibly antithetical artists.Take for example, the imposing triumphal arch in Hogarth’s Gate of Calais (1748), a compositional and rhetorical framing device that will reappear continuously in Piranesi’s views as a pictorial ode to Roman solidity and engineering. Emma Vale considers Piranesi’s oblique view of one of Rome’s most recognizable 3 Theodore K. Rabb, “Artists and Warfare: A Study of Changing Values in Seventeenth-Century Europe,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 75, No. 6 (1985): 87. Introduction ‘Je suis Callot’: What Only Art Can Do “What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone.” –Alexander Pope, Essay on Man and Other Poems (1732-34) W e can trace many of the origins of the European Enlightenment to René Descartes’ (1596-1650) Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences, first published in 1637. Here, the French philosopher famously contends: Je pense, donc je suis (I think, therefore I am).1 Descartes’ unflagging quest for certainty, distrust of the senses, and determined privileging of mind over body proved fertile notions for many Enlightenment authors and scientists. Yet for the French philosopher’s artist contemporary, Jacques Callot (1592/3-1635), it was bodies—and the feelings aroused by depictions of their use and abuse—that mattered most.Through his virtuosic rendering of theatrical gestures, telling physiognomies, and dynamic, almost animate, clothing Callot employed the human figure to create what Donald Posner describes as “empathetic responses in the spectator.”2 Callot was born in Nancy, in the then-independent Duchy of Lorraine (today’s France). Like Descartes, who was trained by the Jesuits, he received a demanding Catholic education. Much of Callot’s life was touched by religious and political strife, in particular the Thirty Years’War that raged in Europe from 1618-1648.The prints by Callot included in this exhibition are drawn from his celebrated series, the eighteen-part, Les Misères et les malheurs de la guerre. The Miseries of War as these small-scale prints are known, was published in 1633, just four years before Descartes’ Discourse. 1 Ian Buchanan, “Enlightenment,” In A Dictionary of Critical Theory, Oxford University Press, 2010. acref-9780199532919-e-220. 2 Donald Posner, “Jacques Callot and the Dances Called Sfessania,” The Art Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 2 (Jun., 1977): 215.
  6. 6. 10 11 *** This Introduction’s title, ‘Je suis Callot’ alludes of course to the recent acts of terrorism in Paris, where twelve people (ten staff and two police officers) were killed in and around the office of the French weekly, Charlie Hebdo.The magazine was evidently targeted for its history of publishing unabashedly offensive cartoons described by an American journalist as “anti-authoritarian, anti-religious, and anti-institutional.”1 That the French cartoonists were, to varying degrees, following in the footsteps of Callot, Hogarth, Piranesi, and Goya seems obvious. It is equally apparent that without Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment ideals such as the liberation of presses and markets from governmental control, radical, button-pushing, counter-cultural publications such as Charlie Hebdo could not exist. In the aftermath of the French tragedy ‘free speech’ became the rallying cry. But the enduring political value of ‘free images’ was also at stake. As these four artists remind us, wars of all kinds—civil, religious, cultural—have been fought for, with, and against pictures. While some prints in this exhibition appeal to written texts and many invoke historical events or philosophical notions, they refer just as often to sophisticated aesthetic strategies and enduring artistic traditions. Anything but mere illustrations or objective accounts of the people, places, and ideas represented, they rely, in other words, on the knowledge of visual culture. We therefore invite you to approach and enjoy these works on their own terms, as primary sources for the study of the Enlightenment. We also encourage you, if moved, to go against the reasonableness of chronology and progress in order to draw inter-pictorial connections within and between the prints in a manner their creators would not only have appreciated but quite possibly intended from the start. – J. Vanessa Lyon 1 Accessed February 11, 2015. triumphal monuments, the tripartite Arch of Constantine (313 C.E.). Here, she argues, the artist’s skewed perspective confounds rather than clarifies our notion of the façade and its famously grafted-on imperial portraits in a decidedly anti-Enlightenment manner. If Piranesi’s tumbledown ‘modern’ shack disallows a timeless view of an ancient arch, it is a strategy to which he will return in the prints known as Grotteschi. As Vale explains, in these exuberantly ornamental etchings, Piranesi “represents the decay of various examples of ancient Greek culture, which fall victim to time itself.” As recent scholarship has shown, some of Piranesi’s most intricate and seemingly precise architectural views play fast and loose with the structural ‘truth’ of the buildings depicted. Further broadening our notion of the architect’s aesthetics, Tim McCall illuminates the Venice-born Piranesi’s ambivalent antiquarian fact-finding. McCall situates the prints in a cosmopolitan Enlightenment context where, true to the growing historical interest in national origins, the relative cultural merits of ancient Greece and antique Rome found fervent support in France and Italy, respectively. Drawing our attention to the ways in which the “imaginative collides with the archeological” McCall describes Piranesi’s combination of multiple printmaking techniques and sublimely subliminal imagery to complicate the boundaries between scientific observation and artistic license. Few familiar with the darkly whimsical and damning 1777 Caprichos (Caprices) of Francisco de Goya (1748-1828) will be surprised to find the Spanish painter and printmaker similarly blurring art and life with a moral message in mind. Goya’s 65 etchings called the Desastres de la Guerra (Disasters of War) were undoubtedly inspired by Callot’s Miseries. Like the Miseries, Goya’s vehemently anti-war Disasters reveal astonishingly little about the precise political and confessional allegiances of their maker. However nightmarishly surreal their imagery, Goya’s Disasters indisputably relate to the actual events through which he lived during the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in the Peninsular War of 1808-1814. Like Callot’s Miseries, Goya’s Disasters can be understood as both a particular history and a universal allegory. It follows perhaps, as a close reading of Hannah Storch’s entries will show, that Goya’s political and philosophical views can vary in the portrayal of similar subjects and from print to print in the same series. In the Disasters, Storch argues, the figure of the noblewoman may stand for Spain’s vulnerability to the French soldiers who devastated Spanish forces and raped and pillaged in Spanish towns. While in (certain of) the Caprices, by contrast, noblewomen may represent ignorance, idleness, and foolish resistance to the Enlightenment’s promised freedom from outmoded ideas. Maria Shevelkina’s careful formal analysis and willingness to examine the Spanish artist’s ‘duality’ sheds additional light on Goya’s—at times simultaneously—pro, counter, and anti-Enlightenment visual rhetoric. As Shevelkina writes of Goya’s ghastly dismembered bodies: “Men are left, the last of their dignity stripped, decaying in and along with nature: the only fruit of these trees is the dead man, the violence of human nature.” Throughout his lifetime Goya’s political allegiances shifted between King and Country. As this interpretation suggests, Goya—surely among the most humane of all artist-social critics—was a humanist in some but not all senses. If ‘man’ is the only animal endowed with reason, he seems to say, little good it has done us.
  7. 7. 12 13 Jacques Callot (1592-1635)
  8. 8. 14 15 Enrollment of the Troops In diaries discovered after his death, Jacques Callot refers to the series now known as Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre as, rather simply, la vie du soldat: the life of a soldier (Choné 1992). Art Historians debate whether Callot intended his series to represent the contemporaneous Thirty Years’War, which erupted in 1618, or as a more general portrayal of war regardless of time or place (Hornstein 2005). Regardless of the answer, in the first print of the series Callot depicts the enlistment of civilians, the moment when soldiers are created. The artist composed a wide-angled scene. Beginning at left, a throng of men gathers around a table to enlist in the army. A commander points them in the direction of the meticulously ordered battalions, where they will find their place. Callot renders each soldier posed in synchronized perfection, his pike ruler-straight, piercing the sky like a neat pinprick.There is a clear hierarchy between the commanders and the soldiers in their “disciplined formation” at rapt attention to their superiors (Hornstein 2005). Beneath a tree at right, more officers stand around a table, strategizing for future battles. Shrouded menacingly by the shade of the outstretched boughs, two watch silently from behind, weapons in hand.The orderliness and overall readability of the scene provide little indication of the impending horrors Callot will show.Though soldiers now proudly stand tall, we will soon see their complete physical and moral deterioration. Grinnell’s unique collection of the Misères features printed ornamental frames inscribed with the Latin “FRUCTUS BELLI,” which translates as “The Fruits of War.” Each decorative frame has three formerly blank spaces—at right, left, and beneath the print—which allow for individual customization by carefully pasting in another small Callot etching as the owner pleased. An array of Callot’s wonderfully intricate and miniscule etchings would have been printed specifically for this purpose.This ornamental reframing demonstrates that the Misères were considered ideal for aestheticization by 18th and 19th century collectors despite their dark and often horrifying subject matter. – EJA 1.1 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), Enrollment of the Troops (L’Enrôlement des Troupes), pl. 2 from Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.2. [Ce Metal que Pluton dans ses veines enſerre, Qui faict en meſme temps, et la paix, et la guerre, Attire le ſoldat, ſans creinte des dangers, Du lieu de ſa naißance, aux Pais eſtrangers Ou s’eſtant embarqué pour ſuivre la Milice Il faut que ſa vertu ſ’arme contre le vice.] [That metal which Pluto encloses within his veins, which at the same time causes peace and war, draws the soldier, without fear of danger, from the place of his birth to foreign lands, where, having embarked to follow the military, his virtue must arm itself against vice.1 ] 1 Unless otherwise noted, all translations of Callot’s captions are found in Jacques Callot: Prints & Related Drawings (Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 1975).
  9. 9. 16 17 Pillage of a Farmhouse Looking closely at this print, viewers may be overwhelmed by Callot’s graphic depiction of the “rape, abduction, murder, and foul deeds” that the caption describes committed by soldiers inside a farmhouse. Here, the orderliness of Enrollment of the Troops is completely gone.The eye does not easily sweep the image in a left-to-right progression; rather it darts around back and forth, up and down, moving like the ruthless soldiers from attack to attack. We catch each assault at its climax: Along the back wall, soldiers rip off a woman’s dress. At the far right, a man begs for mercy before a dagger is plunged into his skull. Through a doorway, a man pins a woman against a wall in order to rape her. A lower ceiling, from which pans, baskets, and other kitchen objects hang, separates the foreground from the background.Two soldiers, cloaked in shadow (similar to the two silent soldiers behind the commanders in Enrollment of the Troops), disturb these domestic, everyday objects. One prods at them with his pike, while the other climbs a ladder to pluck a utensil from the ceiling.The ladder in this scene evokes the famous print known as The Hanging, where perhaps the same soldier occupies the ladder propped up against the makeshift gallows, this time never to descend again. Roles reversed, the soldier—not the utensil—will be hanged, a punishment for his crimes in this house. Although the eye’s mad dash around the image may prove exhausting, there is an artfulness to Callot’s gory spectacle. In the foreground at far left, a woman and her child attempt to run from a soldier, who yanks the woman’s long hair. She raises her desperate hand in a gesture recalling Titian’s celebrated Rape of Lucretia. The formal citation may indicate that Callot is as interested in drawing on artistic tradition to create a beautiful print as he is in preaching any sort of moral message. As a further example, the hanged man we see about to be consumed by smoke at right, is roasting over a flame like an animal. His blasé murderers look on, preparing the next victim (detail 1.2). Callot endows the horrid torture with a soft and fragile beauty, sensitively using a careful light line to create the figure’s elegant form.The artist attends to the folds of his tattered clothes and the way his shirt falls open to reveal a diamond-shaped patch of flesh that mimics the shape of his overall form. Delicately etched plumes of smoke unfurl from his chrysalis- like corpse like grandiose wings. In this way, Callot at once graphically condemns the peasant to a cruel death while evoking his rebirth through an allusion to the butterfly, a Christian symbol of resurrection. – EJA 1.2 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), Pillage of a Farmhouse (Le Pillage d’un Ferme), pl. 5 from Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.5. [Voyla les beaux exploits de ces cœurs inhumains Ils rauagent par tout rien nechappe a leur mains L’un pour avoir de l’or, inuente des ſupplices, L’autre à mil forfaicts anime ſes complices; Et tous dun meſme accord commettent mechamment Le vol, le rapt, le meurtre, et le violement.] [Here are the fine exploits of these inhuman hearts. They ravage everywhere. Nothing escapes their hands. One invents tortures to gain gold, another encourages his accomplices to perform a thousand heinous crimes, and all with one accord viciously commit theft, kidnapping, murder, and rape.]
  10. 10. 18 19 Devastation of a Monastery Among other definitions, the Eucharist, a sacrament central to Catholic worship, is an outward sign of an inward grace that commemorates Christ’s sacrifice. In the dirt at the center of this image, Callot represents sacramental and liturgical objects associated with the Mass being stolen and disrespectfully handled. Among the loot are two altar candlesticks and an aspersorium, a vessel meant for the holy water. Cruets, small vessels for the holy wine, appear in a basket to the right of a crucifix. Nearby, three disrespectful soldiers carry pillaged objects in a mock procession.The first man hauls a sack of looted liturgical goods, the second, wearing a chasuble (the outer garment worn by a priest during the Eucharist), carries a Bible, and the third carries a crucifix. Near the church’s entrance, a soldier gleefully raises a stolen chalice meant for the consecrated wine (detail 1.3). At right, four soldiers surround a priest, miserable, captured, and bound.This scene, echoing the biblical mocking of Christ before the Crucifixion, emphasizes the insolent soldiers’ ridicule of Catholic clerics. The insults continue at left where “disconsolate virgins” are dragged away from the church’s holy sanctuary “to be raped.” At the center of these abuses, two soldiers restrain a nun onto a horse. Her outstretched arm, reaching futilely for help, is a conventional representation of abducted women in Renaissance art, e.g. Giambologna’s Florentine Rape of the Sabine Women. To the right of this group, a screaming nun flees from a faceless soldier who is about to strike her with his sword. While the nuns’ splayed arms and open-mouthed cries underscore their horror and anguish, the soldiers’ unreadable facial expressions suggest nonchalance and a lack of remorse for their brutality. Worse still, the soldiers have set the church, the print’s focal point, on fire. In that the Church is metaphorically considered the “Bride of Christ,” the soldiers’ desecration of the church building parallels their rape of the nuns. Yet although the church burns, the statues of saints and apostles and the cross on the roof, as well as the plaque with the church’s name, S. Maria, remain intact.These seemingly indestructible symbols thus suggest that, despite attempts to destroy it, the Catholic Church itself remains unassailable. – MPP 1.3 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), Devastation of a Monastery (Dévastation d’un Monastère), pl. 6 from Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.6. [Icy par un effort ſacrilege et barbare Ces Demons enragez, et d’une humeur auare Pillent, et bruſlent tout, abbattent les Autels; Se mocquent du reſpect qu’on doit aux Immortels, Et tirent des ſaincts lieux les Vierges deſolees Quils oſent enleuer pour eſtre violées.1 ] [Here, in a sacrilegious and barbarous action, these maddened, avaricious demons pillage and burn everything, demolishing the altars, laugh at the respect due to the Immortals, and drag from the holy places the disconsolate virgins, whom they dare to carry off to be violated.] 1 “Violées” can also be translated as “raped.”
  11. 11. 20 21 The Hospital An interesting dialogue can be obvserved between The Hospital and Devastation of a Monastery: In the former print, the church burns while the soldiers’ bodies remain whole. In the subsequent print, the bodies of the soldiers who had violated the church are now broken and crippled while the church stands intact.This reversal of church and soldiers may allude to the divine retribution that Callot believed would befall those who commit immoral acts. At the center of this print, the dome-shaped structure of a church calls to mind the form of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, both historic and important Catholic churches. Callot would have been known both of these churches since he studied in Rome and later worked in Florence at the court of Cosimo II de’ Medici (Russell 1975). Not only does the resemblance of Callot’s church to these hallowed basilicas connote its symbolic power, the inscription on the church’s pediment reveals that it has the same name—S. Maria—as the burning church in Devastation.Thus, the reoccurrence of this church with a slightly modified appearance suggests that it has been rebuilt, a suggestion of the indestructible nature of the Catholic Church also perceptible in Devastation of a Monastery. Callot’s enemy soldiers, once mighty and capable of wreaking havoc, are now wretched and crippled: some have peg legs and crutches while others crawl on all fours like animals (detail 1.4).Their pitiful fate shows that they have reaped the divine punishment for their pillage and destruction of a sacred site.Those who had mocked friars and priests now seek help from a cleric at the hospital entrance and are not turned away. Accordingly, the priest may symbolize the grace and mercy of the Catholic Church that is literally inscribed on the church’s façade: “MATER GRATIAE MATER MISERICORDIAE TV NOS AB HOSTE…”This Latin text, derived from a Catholic prayer (or divine office) of the Virgin Mary, translates as: “Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, shield me from the enemy, and receive me at the hour of my death,” a prayer that seems to duplicate the sentiments of these dejected soldiers. – MPP 1.4 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), The Hospital (L’Hôpital), pl. 15 from Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.15. [Voyez que c’eſt du monde et combien de hazars Perſecutent ſans fin les enfans du Dieu Mars Les uns eſtropiez, ſe treinent ſur la terre Les autres plus heureux ſ’eſleuent a la guerre Les uns ſur un gibet meurent dun coup fatal, Et les autres ſ’en vont du Camp a L’Hoſpital.] [See how the world goes, and how chance constantly pursues the children of the god Mars. Some, crippled, drag themselves along the ground. Others, more fortunate, receive promotion in war. Some die on a gallows by a fatal blow, and others go from the camp to the hospital.]
  12. 12. 22 23 The Wheel Callot ends this portion of the Misères by illustrating the public execution of soldiers on the breaking wheel.The wheel was a punishment for murder, rape, and aggravated theft, a seemingly suitable retribution for a soldier who had brutally murdered and tortured peasants, raped helpless nuns, pillaged a house, and looted sacred liturgical objects (Merback, 1999). In the 17th century, death on the wheel (along with hanging, burning, and various forms of dismemberment) was considered vulgar and disgraceful (Merback 1999). Unlike the honorable death of decapitation by sword, the wheel rendered the body of the criminal immobile.Tied to the spokes of the wheel, he died bound and helpless, in contrast to the man who received the fatal stroke of the sword free and untethered.This kind of death required the “honorable self-control” required to remain still so that the executioner could deliver an accurate blow (Merback, 1999). Because decapitation gave the condemned an opportunity to die “gloriously,” as one dies in battle, it was reserved for noblemen and aristocrats (Merback 1999).Thus, the five forms of execution represented in Callot’s series show the purportedly appropriate punishment for the crimes committed and the social standing of those condemned. Although these ‘just’ punishments were meant to restore social order and deter future crimes, they were also undoubtedly public spectacles. Gruesome and terrifying, the breaking wheel in particular completely mangled the criminal’s body. After the executioner shattered the bones of the condemned, he was abandoned on the wheel for birds to scavenge his decaying flesh before he died slowly from dehydration. A broadsheet published in 1607 describes the sickening punishment that transforms the gory victim “into a sort of huge screaming puppet writhing in rivulets of blood, a puppet with four tentacles, like a sea monster of raw, slimy and shapeless flesh mixed with splinters of smashed bones” (Merback 1999). Yet Callot does not depict this bloody aspect of the torture. Instead, he shows the condemned soldier with a noose around his neck, signifying that he has received a special “grace” called a retentum, during which he will be fatally strangled after the second or third blow to avoid the excruciating pain (Ruff 2001). Accompanying him on the platform, a priest in a biretta hat blesses the condemned. In the foreground at left, cloaked figure, perhaps a Franciscan friar, clasps the arm of a soon-to-be executed soldier who holds a cross. In an era when religious devotion was greatly valued, it appears that for Callot, crucial to justice is the chance for the convicted to ask for forgiveness for his sins before execution.This is the only way to save the rogue soldiers from eternal damnation, the penalty, according to Catholic doctrine, for death without confession. – MPP 1.5 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), The Wheel (La Roue), pl. 14 from Les Grandes Misères de la guerre, 1633, etching GCAC 1987.4.14. [L’oeil touſiours ſurueillant de la diuine Aſtrée Bannit entierement le dueil d’une contrée, Lors que tenant l’Eſpée, et la Balance en main Elle iuge et punit le voleur inhumain, Qui guette les paßans, les meurtrit, et ſ’en ioüe, Puis luy meſme deuient le ioüet dune roüe.] [The ever-watchful eye of divine Astraea [Justice] completely banishes mourning from a region when, holding the sword and scales in her hands, she judges and punishes the inhuman thief who lies in wait for peasants, murders them and toys with them, then becomes himself the plaything of a wheel.]
  13. 13. 24 25 The Hanging In this horrific yet strangely elegant image, Callot depicts what becomes of vicious soldiers who are hanged for their crimes, dangling from this tree like “wretched fruits” of war. At the same time, Callot appears to allude to the execution of Jesus by crucifixion in order to evoke the possibility of salvation after death—for even the most nefarious men. With its central position and outstretched branches, Callot’s monumental tree is reminiscent of a cross, the symbol of Christianity. Callot’s tree also implies that the wood of Christ’s man-made cross came from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.The gambling men to the right of the tree thus correspond to the soldiers who cast lots for Christ’s robe while the hanged soldiers, characterized in the caption as “thieves,” evoke the good and bad thieves who were crucified along with Christ (Wolfthal 1977). More importantly, the fact that these men are “infamous and lost” suggests that they now need spiritual guidance. Throughout Callot’s series, Franciscan friars (whose symbol, the T-shaped Tau cross, is invoked by the tree’s form), spiritually guide the condemned soldiers and offer them the hope of salvation. Despite the soldiers’ crimes against the Church, the friars listen to their last confessions and pardon them.The tree’s presence in this print reinforces this theme of salvation. For example, in the Biblical book of Ezekiel, God instructs an angel to go through Jerusalem and mark the faithful with the Tau symbol to distinguish them from the rest of the inhabitants who will be killed for their wickedness (Ezekiel 9: 4-6).The fact that two of the scenes with Franciscan friars occur in the center of the print while the third is magnified in the right foreground may demonstrate Callot’s intention to valorize these Franciscan acts of mercy. Moreover, his portrayal of these religious as compassionate and benevolent reflects Callot’s strong connection with the Order of Friars Minor—not not only did he execute devotional prints for them, two of his brothers were also members of the Third Order of Saint Francis (Russell 1975). Arguably, therefore, Callot unstintingly represents at least certain forms of Catholicism as a force of good that grants spiritual peace during times of war and violence. In this manner, he embodies the religious sentiment of his hometown, Lorraine, which remained both the enemy of Louis XIII and a Catholic Stronghold throughout the Counter-Reformation (Russell 1975). – MPP 1.6 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), The Hanging (La Pendaison), pl. 11 from Les Grandes Misères de la guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.11. [A la fin ces Voleurs infames et perdus1 , Comme fruits malheureux a cet arbre pendus Monſtrent bien que le crime (horrible et noire engeance) Eſt luy meſme inſtrument de honte et de vengeance, Et que ceſt le Deſtin des hommes vicieux D’eſprouuer toſt ou tard la iuſtice des Cieux.] [Finally these infamous and abandoned thieves, hanging from this tree like wretched fruit, show that crime (horrible and black species) is itself the instrument of shame and vengeance, and that it is the fate of corrupt men to experience the justice of Heaven sooner or later.] 1 “Perdus” can be translated literally as “lost.”
  14. 14. 26 27 Revenge of the Peasants This print concludes the section of Les Misères illustrating the punishments endured by the soldiers for their crimes. Here, their peasant victims take revenge with the same level of violence enacted upon them by the soldiers. At center, a man disembowels his foe. Naked and mangled corpses litter the ground. But this horrible revolt is given an idyllic setting in a clearing between aged trees with bountiful foliage that provides welcome shade on a beautiful, sunny day. In the distance, we see the peaceful village from which the frenzied peasants have come, seemingly untouched by any conflict. Ultimately, the eye rests upon a single hanged figure, dangling like a perverse ornament on an outstretched bough. In the Misères, Callot’s depiction of war shows what each scene might have looked like to an artist. In reality, the event represented in Revenge of the Peasants would be a chaotic bloodbath, clouded by gun smoke, obscuring our view of the action. Few would be able to appreciate the details to which Callot attends: feathers peeking out of a hat, the textured bark of remarkable, storybook trees. Callot thus presents an aestheticized re- imagining of madness and gore. His saintly hanged man, framed by a halo of pure white, does not truly resemble a corpse (detail 1.7). Lacking earthly substance, he is composed of a few simple strokes, light as the feathery wisp of hair that falls from his face. Callot was well versed in contemporary theater and dance (Posner 1977) and this delicate corpse resembles a dancer, his feet swaying in the wind as if about to perform an arabesque. In the foreground to the right, Callot again cites his artistic predecessors.The falling figure resembles the man who sleeps peacefully in Raphael’s Vision of a Knight, further evidence perhaps of Callot’s interest in the artfulness rather than the accuracy or realism of his wartime scenes. – EJA 1.7 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), Revenge of the Peasants (Le Revanche des Paysans), pl. 17 from Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.17. [Apres pluſieurs degaſt par les ſoldats commis A la fin les Paiſans, quils ont pour ennemis Les guettent à l’eſcart et par une ſurpriſe Les ayant mis à mort les mettent en chemiſe, Et ſe vengent ainsi contre ces Malheureux Des pertes de leurs biens, qui ne viennent que deux.] [After the soldiers have caused much destruction, finally the peasants, whom they have treated as enemies, await them in ambush in a secluded place, and having killed them by surprise, strip them to their shirts, thus avenging themselves on these unfortunate men for the loss of their property, due solely to them.]
  15. 15. 28 29 Distribution of Awards Many scholars agree that Callot’s examination of the life of a soldier comes to a moral conclusion in this final print (Wolfthal 1977).The caption describes the scene as an “example of a leader full of gratitude, who punishes the wicked and rewards the good.” Throughout the Misères, we have witnessed the exploits of the unjust soldiers and their punishments. In this print, however, we view a ceremony in which soldiers are deservedly rewarded for good or heroic martial deeds, at least in the eyes of the king. While the caption (which like the others, Callot did not write but likely approved) proposes such a reading, a closer inspection of the print leads to a very different understanding. At center, we see a king gazing absently forward, his scepter extended to the soldier on his right (detail 1.8).The crown of this blousy monarch makes him resemble a jester, as does the odd, jovial expression he wears.The king He is youthful, and might have reminded contemporary French viewers of Louis XIII, who had succeeded to the throne at the age of eight and was still a teenager when the Thirty Years’War began. A soldier kneels to the king’s left, in the process of receiving a medal from this undistinguished joke of a monarch for his conduct during the war. A courtier places the noose-like ribbon around the soldier’s neck in a synonymous gesture to the other “reward” of punishment bestowed on the condemned man in The Hanging. The gestures are so similar that one must question whether there is in fact a difference in the nature of the two soldiers’ deeds during the war. What and who defines a good or a bad soldier? Despite the importance of this ceremony, few in the room pay attention, instead disinterestedly conversing amongst themselves. In the next century, Hogarth’s Reward of Cruelty will revisit the question of just reward and punishment in a similarly raucous and theatrical setting, there, too, a powerful presider is unable to direct his students’ attention to the moral significance of what lies before them. – EJA 1.8 Jacques Callot (French, c.1592-1635), Distribution of Awards (Distribution des Récompences), pl. 18 from Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre, 1633, etching, GCAC 1987.4.18. [Cet exemple d’un Chef plein de reconnoißance, Qui punit les méchans et les bons recompance, Doit piquer les ſoldats d’un aiguillon d’honneur, Puis que de la vertu, depend tout leur bon-heur, Et qu’ordinairement ils reçoiuent du Vice, La honte, le meſpris, et le dernier ſupplice.] [This example of a grateful leader, who punishes evil and rewards the good, should prick soldiers with the goad of honor, since all their happiness depends on virtue and they ordinarily receive from vice, shame, scorn, and the extreme penalty.]
  16. 16. 30 31 William Hogarth (1697-1764)
  17. 17. 32 33 2.1 William Hogarth, The Inspection, plate 3 of Marriage A-la-Mode, 1743, etching and engraving, GCAC 1992.19.55. The Inspection In his narrative series, Marriage A-la-Mode, based on Samuel Richardson’s 1740 novel Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, Hogarth inverts a tale of steadfast virtue. He chronicles the doomed marriage of a viscount and a wealthy merchant’s daughter as they steadily descend into greed, vanity, and adultery culminating in the lady’s death in the final plate (Paulson 1993). As was his frequent commercial practice, the prints in the series were reversed replicas of larger, corresponding paintings. Hogarth later advertised and sold the prints at a lower price. In “The Inspection,” the third of six plates in the series, the viscount visits an apothecary without his wife to discuss his contraction of venereal disease, presumably from extramarital sex.The viscount brandishes a pillbox as he haggles over the treatment with the apothecary. His exposed neck wears a large, black patch. In Hogarth’s time, patches were used both to cover syphilis scars and as cosmetic beauty spots (Rosenthal 2001).The dual associations of the accessory label him as both vain and sexually diseased. The viscount carelessly waves his walking stick as one might a sword.To his right, a young prostitute dabs at a syphilitic sore. The apothecary, Dr. Rock, was a living, contemporary figure known for syphilis treatments. A favorite villain of Hogarth’s, Rock is also illustrated in The Four Times of Day (Foster 1944). In “The Inspection,” Hogarth mocks the quack doctor’s ineffectiveness as a man of science by surrounding him with taxonomical disorder. Rock’s office is thus portrayed as an old-fashioned wunderkammer. Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, were collections of specimens intended for marvel and study. Popular amongst Enlightenment intellectuals, the collections functioned as private, early museums (Lauder 2011). In “The Inspection,” a lascivious skeleton embraces and gropes an anatomical model who peers through a cabinet.The walls and cabinet are adorned with ponderous and useless objects and instruments: a hat, a pair of unmatched shoes, a model head, a stack of bricks and a pair of paintings depicting a two-headed hermaphrodite and a man with a head growing from his chest. In the bottom left corner, an open book explains that the elaborate machine below it is intended for resetting shoulders and certified by the Royal Academy of Paris (detail 3.1). Hogarth’s nationalistic antipathy for the French posits the machine as a telling object of ridicule.Through the meaningless assortment, Hogarth satirizes the wunderkammer’s failed attempts at encyclopedic study. Rock’s integrity as a medical professional is likewise questioned by rendering his collection senseless and hopelessly disjointed. – DBS
  18. 18. 34 35 Strolling Actresses Dressing In a Barn In the 18th century, the term “stroller” referred to travelling actors, often considered to be exemplars of social disorder.The setting of the old barn with its haphazard clutter serves as a backdrop for the pre-performance chaos of a grand array of actresses in a state of undress. A playbill at right informs the viewer that they are preparing for their last performance of “The Devil to Pay in Heaven” before the play was banned by the 1737 licensing act in Britain. Hogarth chooses to portray solely actresses in the roles of Diana, Jupiter, Cupid, Siren, Aurora, Flora, Apollo, Night, Juno, and Ganymede (Kiaer 2001). The actresses can be identified by their attributes and the symbols with which they are adorned, an orderly iconography for a scene so disorganized. While Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn may be read as a satire of womanly beauty, Hogarth gives the disarray within the print an underlying aesthetic quality. Posed at center is the woman who will play Diana of Versailles, goddess of the moon. However, this woman is clearly not an accurate embodiment of the chaste huntress: she is a sexually enticing figure, breasts exposed, her dress having risen to reveal her supple thigh. Behind her, Apollo, identified by the sun upon the actresses’ head, misuses Diana’s arrowless bow to attempt to reach a pair of stockings. Despite this lighthearted mockery of the goddess’ trademark weapon, Diana is illuminated by the small patch of sunlight that enters the barn through a hole in the dilapidated roof. Like the moon, she is full and glowing. Her curves are endowed with the grace of the snaking serpentine line, Hogarth’s definition of beauty.To the right of Diana kneels the actress who will play the siren, a mythological creature known for using her beauty and song to lure men to an untimely demise. Far from idealized, the siren receives a nip of gin for a toothache, her eyelids heavy with drunkenness and pain. In a similar nod to naturalism, Aurora, the goddess of dawn, stands behind her, squeezing a pimple on her shoulder. Yet the makeshift tail tied about the waist of the siren is another perfectly serpentine form.This conflation of real, lower-class working girls and classical ideals of femininity exemplifies Hogarth’s employment of his trademark serpentine line to create something beautiful in a subject which, to him, was clearly not. – EJA 2.2 William Hogarth, Strolling Actresses Dressing In a Barn, 1738, engraving, GCAC 2013.16.
  19. 19. 36 37 2.3 William Hogarth, Morning, plate 1 of The Four Times of Day, 1738, etching and engraving, GCAC 2014.33. Morning Hogarth’s series The Four Times of the Day chronicles the daily routines of contemporary Londoners.The prints were reversed replicas of larger paintings commissioned to decorate the supper boxes at Vauxhall gardens. Vauxhall, a popular leisure space for London’s wealthy and aristocratic, frequently featured scenes of the four seasons. Hogarth echoed this temporal and pastoral motif, each print cycling backwards from winter to spring (Paulson 1971). Depictions of the four stages of the day, known as the “points du jour,” were pictorial conventions derived from the Flemish engraving tradition (Shesgreen 1983). By creating an urban and English reversal of the “points du jour,” Hogarth calls attention to the diverse, chaotic, and lewd metropolis. In “Morning,” the first plate of the series, an ‘old maid’ walks across Covent Garden to St. Paul’s Cathedral. “Points du jour” engravings typically depicted the young and beautiful Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora. By substituting an old coquette for Aurora, Hogarth signals that his “points du jour” will have singularly parodic and contemporary grit. His fussily overdressed matron pointedly ignores the shivering errand boy who carries her prayer book.The profusion of dark patches littering her face suggests that she is either covered in syphilis scars or vainly overusing cosmetic beauty spots (Rosenthal 2001). Her showy dress belies her pilgrimage to morning church service. Contemporary viewers would have noticed a topographical as well as ideological manipulation of the “points du jour” for Hogarth has moved the famous coffee house, Tom King’s, across the square in order to obscure St. Paul’s Cathedral. Doing so creates a moralistic architectural hierarchy, a strategy Piranesi would later use in “Ancient Baths.” At the bottom of this stratified arrangement is the coffee house, known throughout the Enlightenment as a space for intelligent public discourse (Outram 2006). Hogarth’s depiction of Tom King’s, however, challenges this characterization: A brawl has broken out inside the building, and a pyramid of prostitutes and beggars, who have presumably just left, collects before a fire outside the building. Above Hogarth’s gibe at immoral Enlightenment looms St. Paul’s.The Cathedral’s clock, placed at the top, reads: “Sic transit gloria mundi,” (Thus passes the glory of the world) (detail 2.3). Just as Hogarth substitutes a woman past her prime for Aurora, his choice in setting is similarly moralistic. Rather than in traditional fields, “Morning” takes place in an urban fruit and vegetable market (Shesgreen 1983). Behind the woman, vendors erect their stalls in front of snow-covered buildings. Hogarth’s produce is two steps removed from its original pastoral setting. Located in the heart of the city in wintertime, the harvest is unnatural and out of season. Amid the crowd, the well-known contemporary quack, Dr. Rock, hocks his treatment for syphilis. Linking unnatural fruit with venereal disease, Hogarth bawdily hints that London life produces rotten fruits. Whereas Callot’s fruits of war are death and violence, Hogarth’s fruits of modernity are sex and disease. – DBS
  20. 20. 38 39 Noon In “Noon,” the only print in the series to occur at a mealtime, Hogarth shows lunch gone wrong. Rather than satisfying natural appetites, Hogarth’s scene depicts both physical and spiritual malnourishment. At left, a servant woman lustily spills her dish of food, her attention consumed by having her breasts fondled. In an essay entitled “Britophil,” written to accompany the series’ 1737 advertisement, Hogarth described the woman as a symbol of superior nationalistic beauty. He asserted, “That Grand Venus …has not Beauty enough for the Character of an English Cook-Maid” (Hogarth 1737). By making the woman more beautiful than classical figures, Hogarth invited contemporary London viewers to proudly claim the woman as their own. Having set up the association, however, Hogarth denies his viewers access to an English beauty. Instead of a white man, presumably evoking the Vauxhall audience, the Englishwoman is enjoyed by an androgynous figure, identified by Ronald Paulson as a black man (Paulson 1991). By showing the personification of England enjoying the embrace of a man whose race would likely have symbolized slavery and colonization, Hogarth underscored the perverse constraints of the metropole (Dabydeen 1987). Rather than fighting off the man’s advances, the woman returns his gaze, implicitly snubbing those of the print’s contemporary white male viewers. Never one to refuse an opportunity for lewd humor, Hogarth hangs a sign above the couple depicting a man’s head on a platter that reads, “Good Eating.” The dead cat in the middle of the street is another sly sexual joke (detail 2.4). In a different context, Robert Darnton explains that in 18th century France, the killing and torture of cats was an insinuation of female infidelity. “The symbolism [was] ambivalent enough to dupe,” he explains, “and stark enough to hit” (Darnton 1984). Implying that someone else has violated a man’s cat, the dead feline carried sexual implications of which Hogarth was evidently aware. While the English viewers’ bodily appetites are denied at left, the print shows spiritual starvation at right. Opposite the couple is a family of Huguenots.The Huguenots, members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France, fled to England to seek refuge from religious persecution in Catholic France (Gwynn 2001). Hogarth’s Huguenots, however, are hardly devout pilgrims. Despite having recently left a Christian service, the man and woman are mainly concerned with their decadent appearance.Their son scorns the simple cobblestone with his expensive walking stick.The family’s elaborate dress directly challenges the simplicity advocated by John Calvin and the Reformation Church, and ignores Calvin’s warning that, “too much prosperity so dazzles our eyes, that we cannot perceive wherefore God chastises us” (Calvin 1550). – DBS 2.4 William Hogarth, Noon, plate 2 of The Four Times of Day, 1738, etching and engraving, GCAC 2014.34.
  21. 21. 40 41 2.5 William Hogarth, Evening, plate 3 of The Four Times of Day, 1738, etching and engraving, GCAC 2014.35. Evening In the series’ third plate, “Evening,” the sun sets on the once-fashionable town of Islington just outside of London. In Hogarth’s time, the local theater, Sadler’s Wells, was associated with lowbrow clientele and tradesmen. A few decades earlier, the satirist, Ned Ward, described the town’s visitors as, “Butchers and bailiffs, and such sort of fellows/ mixed with a vermin train’d up for the gallows” (Ward 1699). By choosing a social group that Vauxhall viewers might have scorned, Hogarth primed his audience to look askance at the setting. The plate shows a weary family returning to London from Islington.The man’s hands are stained to indicate that he is a dyer, an effect achieved through the use of blue ink (detail 2.5). Hogarth also used red ink for the flushed face of the dyer’s wife to convey the sweltering heat of the summer day (Paulson 1991).The family’s departure can be read as a religious allusion. No longer able to enjoy nature, the couple evokes Adam and Eve abandoning this English Eden for a man-made metropolis. Hogarth therefore creates a modern Exodus: Behind the dyer’s head, the horns of a cow appear to belong to the man, echoing the prominent horns of Michelangelo’s statue of Moses (Mellinkoff 1970). Hogarth extends the use of religious symbolism from the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, to the New Testament.The dyer’s wife is visibly pregnant, and the crowded tavern directly behind her suggests the inn of the Biblical Nativity, casting her as a contemporary Madonna. But the woman is hardly the sinless Virgin Mary. She ignores the bickering son and daughter who trail behind. Her unfurled fan, décolletage, and loose neckerchief suggest that her children have been conceived in adultery rather than sanctity (Rosenthal 2001). The broken pipe resting on the riverbed mocks the damaged conduit of the woman’s virtue.The pipe, however, not only references female sexuality. Hogarth’s broken pipe signifies the failed attempts of Sir Hugh Myddleton to channel water into London (Paulson 1991).The artist underscores his critique by decorating the tavern sign with Myddleton’s portrait. Inside the tavern a crowd exchanges the country air for city smoke, replicating the urban environment in what should be a pastoral escape. By illustrating the tavern-goers’ warped priorities alongside Myddleton’s defeated engineering, Hogarth portrays contemporary Londoners as arrogant, modern Babylonians. – DBS
  22. 22. 42 43 Night In Hogarth’s final print in The Four Times of the Day, a bonfire forms a flaming blockade in the center of Charing Cross Road. In Hogarth’s day, the narrow street was notorious for its many accidents (Hallett 2000). In the print, the flames yield yet another upheaval: an overturned Salisbury Flying Coach. Here, as the travelers cry for help, a stray firework rockets toward the open window, about to set the coach and everyone inside, ablaze. The fiery spectacle is unobserved, however, by an inebriated freemason, identified by his apron. A friend lights the way with a lantern, steering him home. Ironically, the drunken mason is Sir Thomas de Veil, a contemporary politician known for his vocal support of the Gin Act, which prohibited the sale of spirits. A mason himself, Hogarth belonged to the same lodge as De Veil (Paulson 1971).The artist’s dissatisfaction with De Veil was made explicit in his advertisement for the print series, which imagined a prankster tricking De Veil into drinking urine. “One of them piss’d …in the Bottle … which he carr’d to a noted Justice in Westminster, and told him he was come to inform against a Person who had just sold him a Quartern of Gin, … whereupon the Justic order’d a Glass to be brought” (Hogarth 1737). Hogarth’s advertisement was published on the same day Roger Allen stood trial for killing two gin informants and mobbing De Veil’s home. In Hogarth’s image, a woman empties a chamber pot from a second story window onto De Veil’s head, visually echoing the bodily fluids of the advertisement. De Veil’s hat, seconds from being doused in urine, is decorated with sprigs of oak (detail 2.6). Oak boughs similarly adorn several signs, revealing the reason for the scene’s revelry.The decorations honor Royal Oak Day, May 29, a holiday celebrating the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II following the English Civil War (Miller 2007). Emphasizing the historical allusion, an equestrian statue of Charles II’s predecessor and father, Charles I, observes the holiday’s wild carousing from the far end of Charing Cross Road (Paulson 1971). Not surprisingly, the scene’s senseless pandemonium persists despite the symbols of royal order and control.The disastrous destruction resulting from the holiday revelry might even refer to the Anglo-Dutch Wars that accompanied Charles II’s reign. Just as Goya challenges the effectiveness of absolutism in his depictions of war, Hogarth’s monarchy is shown as ineffective and helpless in the face of modern London. – DBS 2.6 William Hogarth, Night, plate 4 of The Four Times of Day, 1738, etching and engraving, GCAC 2014.36.
  23. 23. 44 45 2.7 William Hogarth (English, 1697-1764), O the Roast Beef of Old England (“The Gate of Calais”), 1749, engraving, GCAC 2013.15. O the Roast Beef of Old England In July 1748, Hogarth travelled to Paris. On his way back through Calais, a territorial possession of England until its capture by the French in 1558, he decided to sketch the city gate, which still bore the English coat of arms. His sketching aroused suspicion and he was soon arrested as a spy (Wallace 2004). Engraved a year after his Parisian trip, The Gate of Calais was intended to “display to my own Countrymen the striking difference between the food, priests, soldiers, etc. of two nations so contiguous, that in a clear day one coast may be seen from the other” (Ireland & Nichols 1874). Hogarth, who had no love for the French, asserts his staunch English nationalism in this print (Erwin 2001). He satirizes and exaggerates the figures of the French, rendering them with abnormally pointed chins, long hooked noses, bulging eyes, and hollowed cheeks.These caricatures glaringly contrast with the artist’s own natural-looking figure at left.The disembodied hand of a French soldier on Hogarth’s shoulder hints at his impending arrest. Two scrawny French soldiers, one of whom is oblivious to his spilled soup, ignore the watery and meatless French soup maigre in the pot carried by two other French men at right. In contrast to the tasteless French soup, the appetizing and massive English roast beef signifies the superior quality of English food (Wagner 2005).The French can only gawk enviously, subjected as they are to the insubstantial fare that undoubtedly accounts for their emaciation. Similarly, in the right foreground, sits a pathetic Scottish Highlander.This soldier has likely fled to France after the failed Jacobite uprising that aimed to restore a Catholic monarch, James II, to England’s throne in 1745.The miserable Scot begs for more than the scanty crust of French bread and raw onion that do nothing to combat his hunger (Ireland & Nichols 1874). The single well-fed foreigner in the print is the gluttonous Catholic friar whose fat fingers greedily fondle the side of beef being carried by a cook to an English inn. Instead of honoring his vow of poverty, this apparently Franciscan friar (a member of the same Catholic Order appearing throughout Callot’s Misères series), exemplifies the deadly sin of gluttony while his countrymen starve. By mocking the religious, Hogarth, a patriotic citizen of Protestant England, suggests that the Catholic Church is corrupt. His anti- Catholicism continues in the representation of the three fishwives at right, who, with crosses at their necks, resemble nuns.The women, perhaps perceiving the face of Christ in the fish, foolishly worship a ray (Erwin 2001). Moreover, the jaw-like gate of Calais, which mimics the gates of hell, undermines the virtue of the priest within who carries the consecrated Eucharistic bread to a sick person (detail 2.7) (Erwin 2001). Given that England was at war with France for much of the mid to late 18th century, Hogarth’s antagonistic patriotism was likely welcome to many in England.This print illuminates his extreme nationalistic pride, a zealous fervor that exemplifies xenophobia. – MPP
  24. 24. 46 47 The Reward of Cruelty William Hogarth is well known for his painstakingly detailed and narrative moralistic prints. The Four Stages of Cruelty, one of his later series, follows the escalating brutality of a character named Tom Nero.Tom’s surname renders him a modern incarnation of the much-despised Roman emperor Nero (r. 54-68). Nero, whose tomb Piranesi would later render, legendarily amused himself with rooftop music as Rome burned in a fire that some argue he lit himself. Hogarth’s series culminates with this fourth and final plate, “The Reward of Cruelty.”The print illustrates the English Nero’s unseemly post-mortem fate as the cadaver used in a medical lecture. Published in 1751, Nero’s end would have been timely for contemporary viewers: the dissection of executed murder convicts, illegal upon the series publication, was soon to be legalized by the Murder Act of 1752 (Paulson 1993). Crucially, Nero’s gruesome disembowelment takes place in a medical school. In Hogarth’s lecture hall, however, an empirical and rational discipline becomes repulsive and superstitious. At left, we find human skulls and crossbones boiling over a blazing fire. Though a trusted means of sterilization, the contents resemble a witch’s cauldron or pirate flag. In the center of this scene the President of the medical college sits on a throne- like chair, similar to that of the young king in Callot’s “Distribution of Awards.” Just as Callot’s monarch absently extends his scepter, the medical school president, attired in billowing academic robes, lazily directs the stagey dissection. Before him,Tom Nero lies on a round table in the center of a medical theater, recalling the torture device in Callot’s “The Wheel.” Four figures dismantle Nero’s body for the benefit of the class: gouging the eye while suspending the head with a pulley system, slicing the abdomen, cutting the heel, and collecting the intestines in a pail at bottom right. At the center of the foreground, a dog eats Nero’s heart, echoing his canine predecessor in the series’ opening plate (detail 2.8). While these actions initially appear to be a literal performance of an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” version of justice, Nero has already died and cannot feel the pain. Despite the fact that some of the same acts for which Nero was punished are carried out in the name of science and pedagogy, few of the students seem to care, thus undermining the purpose of the dissection. In this way, not only the educational and scientific, but also the moral lessons of Nero’s heinous deeds and fate are lost. – DBS 2.8 William Hogarth, The Reward of Cruelty, plate 4 from The Four Stages of Cruelty, 1751, etching and engraving on paper, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Peter O. Stamats, University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1980.175. [Behold the Villain’s dire disgrace! Not Death itself can end. He finds no peaceful Burial-Place, His breathless Corse, no friend. Torn from the Root, that wicked Tongue, Which daily swore and curst! Those Eyeballs from their Sockets wrung, That glow’d with lawless Lust! His Heart expos’d to prying Eyes, To Pity has no claim; But, dreadful! from his Bones shall rise, His Monument of Shame.]
  25. 25. 48 49 Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)
  26. 26. 50 51 The Monumental Tablet In The Monumental Tablet (1761) Piranesi uses a new stylistic vocabulary to depict the passage of time and the inevitability of decay. He employs dry point and scratching to create light, open hatch marks throughout the composition.These soft lines fill the space, creating a hazy atmosphere that furthers the spatial ambiguity of the print.This style is a departure from the precise and ordered lines in the classical subjects of the Opere Varie or the dark and heavy marks that form the Carceri. It was likely inspired by Piranesi’s return to Venice from 1745-1747 (Robison 1986). During this visit to his native city, he presumably saw the work of Venetian painter Giovanni Tiepolo who worked in a similarly painterly style (Wilton-Ely 1993).This mode lends itself to the imagined subjects of the Grotteschi, which means grotesque or even fantastic. The composition represents the decay of various examples of ancient Greek culture, which fall victim to time itself. Before the viewer a frame rests against a weathered stone wall adorned with classical symbols and motifs such as coins, the horn of plenty, decorative feathers, chains, and vegetation. A faint, disembodied hand floats above the left corner of the frame performing a libation.This symbolic act of pouring a liquid, such as wine or olive oil, into another bowl and letting it spill into the earth in honor of a God or deceased loved one was a central practice of the ancient Greeks (Burkert 1985).The right corner of the frame is particularly heavy with classical decoration including the head of Medusa on a round plaque or shield. Just above this spread the massive wings of Pegasus (detail 1), Medusa’s equine child of sorts, as he was born of her blood after she was beheaded by Perseus (Harrison 1924).Though the winged horse is too large to fit within the bounds of the print, his hooves direct the eye to the bottom right corner, where the scene’s most disrupting feature is revealed. As the eye follows Pegasus’ hooves through the smoky lines along the right, the image begins to roll inwards (detail 2) to splits in the bottom center (detail 3) as if a set of heavy curtains were being drawn. Not only does this curtain call into question the kind of space that this scene occupies, it also quite literally introduces “the influence of stage design in liberating him [Piranesi] from practical considerations of proposals for construction” (Robinson 1986).The disruption of space and time removes the scene even further from the realm of reality and into an imagined and theatrical fantasyland, filled with death and ruin. Along the print’s bottom edge, ripples of fabric folds run beneath the piles of abandoned and ruined materials strewn across the foreground. Amid this mess rest three skulls and a partially buried hourglass.The skulls act as a gruesome reminder (memento mori) of the inevitability of death, in this case the end of a Greek culture whose time has run out—as the curtain is being drawn. – EEV 3.1 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Monumental Tablet, pl. IV state II from Grotteschi, 1761, etching, engraving, dry point, scratching, GCAC 1962.10.PI.31.
  27. 27. 52 53 3.2 Giovanni Battista Piranesi Idea delle antiche vie Appia e Ardeatina (Fantasy of the Ancient Via Appia and Via Ardeatina), frontispiece from Antichità Romane, 1756, etching, GCAC 1962.10.PI.23 Idea delle antiche vie Appia e Ardeatina The site of this print is a miscellany of ancient architectural elements, ranging from Roman temples and busts to Egyptian obelisks Yet, even with its excess of subjects the print retains order by both technical and compositional means.To mitigate the stifling effect of over-crowding, for example, Piranesi organizes the immense heaps of architecture between two vanishing points forming the Via Appia, left, and Via Ardeatina, right. Piranesi employs the technique called stamping out to add an atmospheric haziness that enhances the recession of space as the avenues fade into the distance. In etchings of this sort, the depth to which the acid bites the surface determines the amount of ink an etched impression can hold which, in turn, regulates the tone (the deeper, the darker) of the mark.To manipulate this tonal effect, the artist stamps out (i.e. uses asphalt or varnish to protect exposed copper from acid) in order to control the intensity of the mark.This allows for expanses of distinct tonal areas, often designating background and foreground. Here, the gray distant structures contrast with the rich darkness of those closest, effectively generating an atmospheric spatial depth. In this way, composition allows Piranesi to critique Enlightenment thought in terms of its treatment, or foregrounding, of the ancient past. In this image, the Via Appia (Appian Way), a historic Roman road engineered in the 5th century, recedes along a diagonal, allowing visual access to the many facades, busts, even written inscriptions. By contrast, the verticality of Via Ardeatina, another ancient thoroughfare, compresses the porticos, facades, and pillars so they overlap and interrupt the beholder’s view of individual features. Like the well-ordered encyclopedia for with the 18th century would be known, the Via Appia confers architectural and historical information through close, empirical, observation.The darker avenue, a mere alleyway, hints at such information but does not disclose it. In fact, the juxtaposition of these avenues critiques the power of Enlightenment history to understand antiquity in the present. In this context, the Via Appia represents a glorious past while the Via Ardeatina represents an irreconcilable removal from this past, a symptom of the modern. Perhaps the accessible view of the Egyptian and Roman relics of the Via Appia aligns with Giambattista Vico’s humanistic historicism. In this sense, Piranesi may suggest that an accurate reconstruction of the past can be rendered only through the analysis of multiple human civilizations, historical cycles, and cultural origins. – TM
  28. 28. 54 55 The Tomb of Nero Ancient Roman architecture inspired Piranesi’s topographical drafting, archeology, and fantastical scenes. In the literally decadent imagery of Nero’s Tomb, the imaginative collides with the archeological to produce an awe-inspiring print.This print, as the interface of the historical and the imaginary, correlates to the Enlightenment’s re-appraisal of what comprised truth. In pursuit of new approaches to history, Enlightenment thinkers searched the past to explain the formation and condition of contemporary Europe. Many turned to Greek and Roman antiquity often privileging one over the other.The “Greco-Roman debate” demonstrates the Enlightenment concern with historicism, which analyzed the source (or sources) or Western European culture. Philhellenists, chiefly of French and British nationality, argued that the genesis of culture began with Ancient Greece. Many Italian thinkers, not surprisingly, viewed Hellenocentrism (privileging the Greek) as gross simplification and contended that Latin culture was largely independent of Greek influence. Foremost among these Italian champions of Rome, Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) probed the origin of Latin culture through language in order to show that Latin consisted of more Etruscan (Italian) terminology than Greek (Costelloe 2014). In the tiny caption at bottom right of this print, Piranesi references the French Academy in Rome, perhaps aligning the modern French with the ancient Greek. His incorporation of grandiose flourishes and intricate organic forms certainly exemplifies the rococo style popular in France at the time. Moreover, to intensify what appears as his polemical assault on the grotesqueness of French art, Piranesi directly appropriates imagery from French printmakers in the decorative bas-relief visible at the foot of the sarcophagus. Indeed, a nearly identical figure appears in Ewer with Hercules Slaying Cacus by Jean LePautre, a 17th century French printmaker (Sørenson 2005). Perhaps Piranesi places this borrowed figure in an overgrown and crumbling tomb in order to take sides in the emerging Greco-Roman controversy, a divisive nationalistic and aesthetic debate. Piranesi reproduced not only a French image in his Grotteschi, but a French image of a Greco-Roman myth: Heracles’ (Hercules) defeat of Cacus, a fire-breathing ogre who lived at the future site of Rome on Palantine Hill. More relevant to this exhibition, the figures appear on the tomb of Nero, whom Pliny the Elder described as “an enemy of mankind” (detail of 3.3). Beyond the decrepit tomb, massive structures loom over the corrosion and fragments in the foreground.The sequence of arches supporting a causeway resembles the Roman aqueducts that Piranesi studied extensively.To Piranesi, and to many other historians both past and present, the functionality of Roman architecture far surpassed that of the decorative Greek.To this end, Piranesi asks “Must the Genius of our artists be so basely enslaved to the Grecian manners, as not to dare to look to take what is beautiful elsewhere, if it be not of Grecian origin?” (Naginski 2008). – TM 3.3 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Tomb of Nero, from Grotteschi, ca. 1748, etching, GCAC 1962.10.PI.30
  29. 29. 56 57 3.4 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Ancient Baths with Stairs That Lead to the Gymnasium and the Theatre, from Opere Varie, 1761, etching, GCAC 1962.10.PI.21. The Ancient Baths with Stairs That Lead to the Gymnasium and the Theatre The Ancient Baths with stairs leading to the gymnasium and theatre (1761) forms a kind of mirror opposite of the depressing scene of the Lion Bas Reliefs by privileging order and hierarchy in the open space of the bathhouse. Created around the same time, “the Carceri are intimately related to his [Piranesi’s] current interests in the architectural fantasies as a means of formal analysis” (Wilton-Ely 1993).The two massive arched structures in the center declare Piranesi’s position in the Greco-Roman controversy—when the relative superiority of ancient Greek and Roman cultures was debated, especially in terms of their impact on the neoclassical interests of the Enlightenment. At the base of the arches, Greek Doric columns support an amalgamation of architectural features such as the pointed temple roof, or pediment, and the triglyphs and metopes on the pediment’s frieze, above the columns themselves (Lawrence 1996).The foundation is thus classically Greek, even reminiscent of the Parthenon. Yet despite their resemblance to the Athenian icon, the columns hardly seem strong enough to support the massive structures they support, especially the Roman elements.The metopes above the columns are bare, suggesting the once-painted or sculpted images may have worn off altogether, further revealing their inability to endure (Lawrence 1996). Intriguingly, as the eye moves upwards, the features become decidedly Roman.The series of arches, much like the arches of the Carceri, feature Etruscan-style masonry, an element which is important considering Piranesi’s (and Giambattista Vico’s) insistence on “the importance of the Etruscans as the Roman’s intellectual and artistic mentors” (Robison 1986). As the ‘base’ of Roman culture, this plain, solid masonry supports the uppermost level of Roman arches and smooth marble.The arches extend upwards outside the margins of the print itself.They tower over the tiny figures below, who mill about, diminished by the buildings. Several small stone lions, much like those in the Lion Bas-Reliefs, sit gracefully on the edges and center of the print.This balanced placement structures the scene.The distinctly Roman lions face inward and protect the buildings, keeping at bay the chaos that could not be stopped in the Lion Bas-Reliefs. Although equally filled with imagined architecture, the precise and neatly ordered linear style of the print creates a sense of reality that is nowhere to be found in the prison scenes.The Roman elements at the top of the physical hierarchy stand tall and proud, dwarfing the Greek elements which seem meager in comparison.This tightly controlled scene leaves no room for the disorder of the Carceri. It embodies a world of categorization and control through a moralizing system of classical architectural materials and features. – EEV
  30. 30. 58 59 The Arch of Constantine in Rome From Piranesi’s series, the Alcune Vedute di Archi Trionfali ed altri Monumenti (Some scenic views of triumphal and other monuments), the Arch of Constantine in Rome (1748) upholds the strength of Rome and its superior architecture. As an Italian, Piranesi did not question the excellence of ancient Rome and the architectural feats of his nation’s past. Completed in 315 AD, the Arch of Constantine’s impressive triple arch structure was built with spolia, or pilfered scraps from earlier monuments.This was common practice at the time and further suggests the ‘triumph’ of Roman culture over the Greek monuments that were deconstructed purely for parts (Elsner 2000). Beyond its Roman-ness, the triple arch was constructed to honor Emperor Constantine’s victory in the Battle of the Milvan Bridge in 312 AD. It was during this battle that soldiers branded their shields with a Chi-Ro, the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, thus marking the beginning of Constantine’s embrace of Christianity.This conversion to Christianity eventually led to the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, which emphasized tolerance of all religions but also legalized Christianity, making it safe to practice openly. Along with secularism, the religious tolerance foreshadowed in these events is often considered a tenet of the Enlightenment (Stephenson 2010). Viewed from the side, through another archway, the monument stands tall despite its age, with very few signs of wear.The arch positioning the viewer provides a stark contrast, as it is both covered in vegetation and beginning to weather.Topped with a few stray plants, the Arch of Constantine towers over the shack beside it. Clearly, time has passed since its construction, enough time that other buildings have since been built. Yet despite this, the ancient monument not only stands but is also obviously more grand in comparison to its modern surroundings. Piranesi praises the superiority of ancient Roman architecture but is continually disappointed that this same quality is apparently unattainable in his own time since “the real problem is that no contemporary patron, either official or private, is willing to bear the cost of constructing buildings equal in splendor to those of the antique” (Robinson 1986). Instead, the contemporary building looks unsteady. One can assume that it will crumble long before the ancient monument does. Because Constantine’s arch is depicted from an angle that does not necessarily show off the facade or intricate details of the structure itself, the aim is not to highlight style but endurance.The beautiful architectural details that adorn the structure fall by the wayside; the superiority of the construction is the focus of this print. – EEV 3.5 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Arch of Constantine in Rome, pl. IX from Alcune Vedute di Archi Trionfali ed altri Monumenti, 1748, etching, GCAC 1962.10.PI.63
  31. 31. 60 61 3.6 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Lion Bas-Reliefs, pl. V state I from Carceri d’Invenzione, c. 1761, etching, engraving, GCAC 1962.10.PI.36. The Lion Bas-Reliefs The Lion Bas-Reliefs (1761) was not originally part of the Carceri series. It was added during the second state of the print series as Piranesi attempted to alter the overall feeling of his darkly imaginative prisons. As Andrew Robison observes, “one of Piranesi’s primary goals was to expand the spaces of their compositions” not to create empty space but to fill with even more architectural features (Robison 1986).This sheet epitomizes this desire through a seemingly endless frenzy of Roman arches, bridges, chains, and wooden beams that seem to recede infinitely.This endless prison echoes Piranesi’s negative feelings towards an Enlightenment culture that relied on theorizing, scientific observation, and categorization, an approach he resists entirely in these prisons. Here Piranesi pursues a newly chaotic style of imaginative exploration because he “had no doubts that artistic license was necessary for a healthy state of design and essential for the development of new ideas” (Robison 1986).The unpredictability of experimentation takes over in this world. Neither the brutal justice of ancient Rome nor the outside world is enough to counter the disorder. The large relief sculpture at left depicts two stone men detaining a third. All three sculptures look eerily lifelike (detail 1).The third man, although currently bound, is being shoved towards the edge of the sculpture, under which rest two stone lions.The lion pit is the presumed fate of this imprisoned man, punishment for whatever heinous act caused him to be arrested and thrown in this prison to begin with.The justice system of Rome, as represented by the pit of lions, was considered “the symbol and assurance of stable peace and order… having as its ultimate aim the stabilization as well as the preservation of the social status quo.”Yet despite these intentions, it cannot reign in the disorder of the imagined prison. Justice is not realized here (Chroust 1946). A suggestion of what could be is echoed through a glimmer of the outside world seen at far right (detail 2). But this potential relief goes unnoticed by the men inside the prison. Ultimately, it provides little escape even for the viewer of this overwhelming and claustrophobic space. – EEV
  32. 32. 62 63 The Round Tower A master draftsman, Piranesi’s oeuvre mainly consists of archeological studies, carefully composed Vedute (scenic views) and architectural schemes. Yet his polemical writings and etchings focus on criticizing Philhellenic circles (see catalogue entry 3.3) and defending his advocacy on the free experimentation in architecture in order to create novel styles (Wilton-Ely 1978). But besides exemplifying Piranesi’s desire for artistic freedom and architectural experimentation, the Carceri prints do not neatly fit into of the categories outlined above. A comparison of the first and second states of the series reveals drastic alterations such as enhanced tonal contrast.There is also the addition of many hanging ropes, heavy chains, and torture devices. Interestingly, these added features often contain a startling element: a cross. At the far right side of the second state of plate III, for example, Piranesi makes a cross out of dark, black, scratchy lines near an ominously spiked instrument. (Detail of 3.7) In a nearly unrecognizable reworking of plate XVI, a menacing construction of cruciform wooden beams noticeably occupies the lower right corner. In both cases, Piranesi situates these cross-like additions into objects known for their capacity to inflict pain. Furthermore, in plate III the cross is among the darkest area in the entire dungeon while the crosses in plate XVI are among the brightest aspects. Piranesi made these additions are sufficiently prominent to draw the viewer’s attention. If Piranesi’s art attempts to value “fragments of the past as means by which architecture might be reinvented as opposed to mourned” (Naginski 2008), modern architects should use the ruins of ancient Rome for this purpose. Here, the cross might signify the Church’s role in propagating Baroque architecture by Borromini or Bernini. In Piranesi’s view the wealth and power of the Papacy could realize buildings with grandeur equivalent to ancient Rome. Baroque basilicas confirmed the Church’s ability to carry out such projects but in architectural styles that detracted from the building itself. During the 18th century, Baroque architecture came under fire by influential architectural theorists, especially Carlo Lodoli, a Venetian polymath and correspondent of Piranesi’s (Consoli 2006). Against Baroque architecture, which was viewed by some contemporaries as overly ornamental and unnecessarily grandiose, Lodoli invented a scientific approach to architecture based on structural necessity rather than ‘superfluous’ decoration (Ungureanu 2011). Put another way, Lodoli developed a ‘truthful’ architecture where the materials, wood and stone, carried out their specific functions instead of cloaking the materials in excessive ornament. Similarly, Piranesi’s arches spring from needed supporting columns, recalling vaulting in Gothic cathedrals and possibly the barrel vaults common in Italian Renaissance architecture. Below them, a cruciform beam seems to rest upon the splintered wooden cross. Again, this careful juxtaposition points toward the Church’s privileging of highly decorative Baroque architecture over the more restrained style and “functionality” of Roman antiquity. – TM 3.7 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Round Tower, pl. III from Carceri d’invenzione, State V, 1761, etching, GCAC. 1962.10.PI.34.
  33. 33. 64 65 3.8 Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Giant Opening, pl. IX from Carceri d’invenzione, State V, 1761, etching, GCAC. 1962.10.PI.40. The Giant Opening Writers, philosophers, and art historians have mused over the fantastical shadowy spaces Piranesi constructed of amorphous and ragged lines. Many of the Carceri prints feature this frenzied method of mark making, culminating in plate IX, The Giant Opening. Especially at the print’s right margin, Piranesi’s lines take on a life of their own, describing their manic rendering instead of forming a definite image (detail of 3.8).The print illustrates an enormous structure. Yet, because of the prominence of disorderly lines, abstraction becomes an aspect, if not the subject, of this wild print. Just as the structure struggles for definition and stability, the viewer must search for something tangible. Both the crypt and portal are entities recognizable to the viewer. But their depiction here transcends the possibility of seeing in reality.The scene, though recognizable, is impossible to experience in life. It importantly evokes Edmund Burke’s newly developed aesthetic theory of the sublime. Burke, an Irish politician and philosopher active during Piranesi’s lifetime, postulated two related but contrasting aesthetic concepts, the ‘beautiful’ and the ‘sublime.’ Beauty derives from the recognition of a depicted object in association with previous observations.The image, or images, of lived experience, conjured by the imagination are compared and evaluated for likeness to the depicted object by the faculty of judgment. For Burke, this identification with representation is the basis of beauty and its attendant pleasure.The other, more powerful, aesthetic category, the sublime, also derives from recognition by the imagination. However, “in the sublime our sensuous ideas lead us to an idea or experience that inevitably never arrives.”This experience short-circuits judgment out of the tripartite machination involved in the production of beauty (Huhn 2004). Thus, in the experience of the sublime, the imagination reigns supreme and the interplay between imagination and reason goes unchecked. The Burkean sublime manifests itself most noticeably in the second state of Piranesi’s Carceri prints, which exhibit additional torture devices and ominously darkened spaces. Darkness forces the viewer to fill in the visual void and to judge the unobservable thing inevitably cloaked in black. Similarly, the roughly composed torture apparatuses evoke pain and suffering to a degree most viewers can only imagine. For Burke, these objects, in addition to the space, would “excite the ideas of pain and danger… a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.” (Burke 1757) – TM
  34. 34. 66 67 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
  35. 35. 68 69 4.1 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1848), They Carried Her Off! (Que Se La Llevaron!) pl. 8 from Los Caprichos, 1799, etching and aquatint on paper, Gift of Owen and Leone Elliott, University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1976.44H. They Carried her Off! Goya published Los Caprichos in 1777 to demonstrate the upheaval of contemporary Spain.There, the Enlightenment was seen by some as a promotion of science and reason and a belief in an essentially moral and rational humanity (Tomlinson 1992).Such radical ideas resulted in a subversion of old institutions, such as the Catholic Church and the sometimes ignorant and passive aristocracy.The tensions between new Enlightenment ideas and old institutions manifested themselves in several ways, including violent, physi- cal confrontations (Tomlinson 1992). They Carried Her Off represents the overthrowing of the idle nobility and the freedom and chaos of a world without order and morality. Throughout Los Caprichos, noblewomen are depicted as frivolous and susceptible to deceit and corruption. At first, these noble women offer their hand to the first comer. They are shown as unreadable, their ignorance impenetrable to the extent that they do not even know themselves (one aime of the Age of Reason). They Carried Her Off shows the opposition between the Enlightenment and a Spanish nobility who had become com- placent and was generally unresponsive to Enlightenment calls for change. They Carried Her Off shows a departure from the earlier prints of the series, replacing the earlier sense of gallantry with violence and even rape, where a pure and innocent elite woman is being carried away by two shrouded figures with sinister intent (Tomlinson 1989). The faces of the villains holding the noblewomen are obscured.This, as Janis Tom- linson states, recalls the 18th century idea of the masquerade, a metaphor for a world governed without restraint or order, where masks hide intentions, both good and bad (Tomlinson 1989). Wearing a mask allowed wearers a freeing anonymity that allowed them to do whatever they desired, regardless of the constraints of society or reason. Given the fantastical nature of the rest of the Caprichos, it is not even clear that these figures are human and not grotesque mythical beasts, such as goblins or warlocks. Perhaps Goya covers the faces of the savage kidnappers to show that they act from passion instead of reason and are not limited by morality.This print reflects Goya’s uncertainty about the constraints of the old regime and the free morals of the Enlightenment. – HLS
  36. 36. 70 71 The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters In the most famous image of Los Caprichos, a sleeping man in contemporary dress sits cradling his head at a desk inscribed with the phrase “El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.”The dreamer is Goya himself in the throes of Enlightenment-induced nightmares.This is reflected by the surrounding creatures and darkened hallucinations descending from the shadows. Goya directs the viewer’s eye from the bottom left to the top right of the print.The inscribed words represent the way “razon”, or reason, imposed on the creative artist’s mind, produces visions of “monstruos,” or monsters, which are embedded in dreams. An owl, perching on the tabletop to Goya’s left, attempts to rouse the dreamer with a burnisher, the artists’ tool used for erasing markings, gripped in his claws, as if he is urging the artist to erase the foulness of the Enlightenment from public conception. Curled behind Goya’s back, a black cat glares mischievously, surrounded by menacing owls with their wings widespread: screeching and howling terrors.The artist’s self- insertion may lean toward anti-Enlightened thought, since he sides with more Baroque allegories of dreaming and the subconscious. Several scholars note that while it is difficult to ascribe specific iconographical meanings to Goya’s prints, especially the imagined creatures of Los Caprichos, there is symbolic significance in the monsters and animals Goya chooses. For example, the lynx at the bottom right corner of the print could refer to an emblem of fantasia or the “mental eye” (Levitine 1959). Goya’s iconographic allusion in addition to references to the Dream world, subverts the universalizing narrative imposed by the Enlightenment. Goya depicts particularity, individualism, and irrationality personified in the artist who is overwhelmed by his personal imagination. Instead of observing or schematizing the natural world, Goya envisions the “nonrational possibilities of experience” (Ilie 1984). While past history cannot be experienced, the imagination can. Goya’s embodiment of a “split character” in his Self Portrait (1795-1800), similarly addresses duality, expressing that “Where the is light there is also darkness and where there is reason there is also madness” (Ciofalo 1997). Dualism is further realized through the understanding that a man cannot be fully “Enlightened” without becoming wholly aware of the conscious and unconscious (dream) worlds.The protagonist is in the midst of dreams that are a result of over-immersion in the ideology of the Enlightenment; his terrors may serve as a reflection of his absorption in “ideas and ideals that give little heed to reality” (Ciofalo 1997). In his depictions of the in-between state, Goya’s reality must be balanced by recognition of the subconscious, a dream world that is fantastically not of the rational world. – MS 4.2 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1848), The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos) pl. 43 from Los Caprichos, 1799, etching, aquatint, drypoint, and burin on paper, Gift of Owen and Leone Elliott, University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1976. 44AQ.