La Tentation de Saint-Antoine II
After Jacques Callot (French, 1592–1635)
Platemark: 74 x 92.2 cm (29 1/8 x 36 5/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Etching, aquatint, and roulette, printed in black and ochre
Not On View
Enlarged reverse copy after Jacques Callot (Lieure 188).
Erik Desmazières was born in 1948 in Rabat, Morocco, and lived there until the age of twelve. He began to draw as a boy and yearned to be an artist. To satisfy his parents’ desire that he make himself employable, he studied at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. Immediately after graduating in 1971, he enrolled in an evening course on drawing. Seeing his talent, a friend suggested that he make prints. Knowing nothing of printmaking techniques, he turned to artist Jean Delpech from whom he learned the rudiments. Continuing to explore printmaking and draughtsmanship with little instruction, Desmazières essentially developed as a self-taught artist. His teachers are the great masters of the history of graphic arts. He plunders the work of artists such as Jacques Callot, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and M. C. Escher. Some of his prints directly reinterpret theirs; others are completely original while remaining grounded in tradition. Desmazières has an uncanny knack for imparting a slightly fantastic twist to seemingly straightforward imagery. While his work has Escher’s precision of line, it moves beyond mathematical exercise because he fills his inventions with evocative atmosphere à la Piranesi. Desmazières’s oeuvre now comprises some two hundred etchings.
“The Temptation of St. Anthony” is closely based–in enlarged mirror image–on a large, extremely rare etching by Jacques Callot, which is considered one of the most inventive prints of all time. An impression in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris has wash additions which probably were originally gray but are now faded to a muted orangey brown. For this homage to the master, Desmazières took Callot’s additions as a point of departure for his own coloration of the image, strongly accentuating the shadows cast by the hell-fire of the underworld. He printed the aquatint tone plate in various colors. The present example is orangey ochre–brighter than the wash on the Paris Callot–and black, perfect for the demonic fantasy.
Lower right, in graphite: Erik Desmazieres 1993-94; Lower center in graphite: la Tentation de Saint-Antoine; lower left in graphite: 63/75
Signed and dated in graphite in lower right: Erik Desmazieres
Childs Gallery (Boston); from which puchased by MFA, 20 September 2006.
Lee M. Friedman Fund
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.