An Unlikely Package - Philippe de Champaigne and Jacques Callot

Philippe de Champaigne, self-portrait. Museum of Grenoble

Philippe de Champaigne, self-portrait.
Museum of Grenoble

Portrait of Jacques Callot by Lucas Vorstermanthe Elder after Anthony van Dyck. c. 1635

Portrait of Jacques Callot by Lucas Vorstermanthe Elder after Anthony van Dyck. c. 1635

Cardinal de Richelieu c. 1633-40 by Philippe de Champaigne from The National Gallery.

Cardinal de Richelieu c. 1633-40 by Philippe de Champaigne from The National Gallery.

The Potbellied Dwarf with the Tall Hat by Jaques Callot. c. 1616.

The Potbellied Dwarf with the Tall Hat by Jaques Callot. c. 1616.

In the play Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano the character is introduced before he appears in a wonderful speech between his best friend Le Bret, and Ragueneu the baker:

-----
LE BRET (with tenderness):
He is the most exquisite gentleman
In all the world! 

RAGUENEAU:
A poet!

CUIGY:
And a swordsman!

BRISSAILLE:
Physician!

LE BRET:
Musician!

LIGNIÈRE:
He’s all of that 
In an unlikely package!

RAGENEAU:
Oh, I’ll say!
Champaigne would never paint him, to be sure,
But I think he might be well suited to
Inspire Jacques Callot. The most bizarre,
Excessive, brilliant, fine, extravagant, 
Mad duelist to write into a farce: 
A giant hat with triple plume of white
And doublet ¬with six oversized peplums, 
A mantle flying pompously behind,
Hiked up over the tail of his sharp sword
Like an insolent cockerel, and more proud
Than all the poor nobles in Gascony.

----

I've pulled some pictures to illustrate the contrast Rageneau makes.

Philippe de Champaigne was a French Baroque era painter, who portrayed the entire French court, the French high nobility, royalty, high members of the church and the state, parliamentarians and architects, and other notable and beautiful people. His brilliant colors, and strength of composition makes his portraiture exceptional.

His self portrait from the Museum of Grenoble shows his ability to capture the subtleties of expression in his portraits. His portrait of Cardinal Richelieu c. 1633-40 from The National Gallery, is typical of his magnificent court portraits.

Jacques Callot, in contrast, was a baroque printmaker and draftsman from the Duchy of Lorraine (a Northern french province) who made more than 1,400 etchings featuring soldiers, clowns, drunkards, Gypsies, beggars, as well as court life. 

This etching of Jacques Callot, by Lucas Vorstermanthe Elder after Anthony van Dyck conveys a little of the sly humor that appears in so much of his work.

For example, I've pulled one of my favorites of his etchings of dwarves "The Potbellied Dwarf with the Tall Hat" which I adore for its tiny ferocity and style. It seems a wonderful visual accompaniment to Rageneau's description of Cyrano.

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