Jacques Callot

Balli di Sfessania

c. 1622
This series of twenty-four etchings was executed after Callot's return to the Lorraine in around 1622. Each of the prints in the "Balli di sfessania" represents performers in pairs, viewed in grotesque or comical postures. Callot succeeded in depicting the dynamic and playful nature of these actors by capturing their exaggerated gestures as well as the great variety of their costumes and accessories. The stage, seen in the background, reveals the artist's preoccupation with the world of the theatre, as actors, acrobats, musicians, and spectators come together within a setting that often resembles a village square. Callot's interpretation could be considered a whimsical tribute to the style of acting of the Commedia dell'arte, which is based largely on improvisation.
Title
Balli di Sfessania
Date
c. 1622
Medium
Print
Materials
set of 24 etchings on laid paper
Dimensions
9.5 x 12.6 cm each (approx.)
Nationality
French
Credit line
Gift of Philip R.L. Somerville, Ottawa, 1997
Accession number
39293.1-24