Jacques Callot (c. 1592 – 1635) was a French baroque printmaker and draftsman from the Duchy of Lorraine (an independent state on the North-Eastern border with France, Southwestern border of Germany and overlapping the Southern Netherlands).
He is an important figure in the development of the old master print. He made over 1,400 etchings that chronicled the life of his period, featuring soldiers, clowns, drunkards, Gypsies, beggars, as well as court life. He also etched many religious and military images, and many prints featured extensive landscapes in their background.
Callot was born and died in Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, now in France. He came from a prominent family (his father was master of ceremonies at the court of the Duke), and he often describes himself as having noble status in the inscriptions to his prints. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to a goldsmith, but soon after travelled to Rome where he learned engraving from an expatriate Frenchman, Philippe Thomassin. He probably then studied etching with Antonio Tempesta in Florence, where he lived from 1612 to 1621. Over 2,000 preparatory drawings and studies for prints survive, but no paintings by him are known, and he probably never trained as a painter.
His technique was exceptional, and was helped by important technical advances he made. He developed the échoppe, a type of etching-needle with a slanting oval section at the end, which enabled etchers to create a swelling line, as engravers were able to do.
His most famous prints are his two series of prints each on "the Miseries and Misfortunes of War". These are known as Les Grandes Misères de la guerre, consisting of 18 prints published in 1633, and the earlier and incomplete Les Petites Misères — referring to their sizes, large and small (though even the large set are only about 8 x 13 cm). These still alarming images show soldiers pillaging and burning their way through town, country and convent, before being variously arrested and executed by their superiors, lynched by peasants, or surviving to live as crippled beggars. At the end the generals are rewarded by their monarch. In 1633, the year the larger set was published, Lorraine had been invaded by the French in the Thirty Years' War and Callot's vision still stands with Francisco Goya's Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War), which was influenced by Callot, as among the most powerful artistic statements of the inhumanity of war.