Legend has it that little Jacques Callot so wanted to be an artist in Rome that he twice ran away from his wealthy parents' home at the duke of Lorraine's court. By 1608 he had apprenticed to engraver and publisher Philippe Thomassin, learning line engraving and copying Flemish art and late Mannerist works in Roman churches.
Callot's career really began in Florence in 1612, however, when he began working for the sophisticated, hyper-elegant Medici court. With a Mannerist's flair for wit and incisive detail, Callot drew and etched fairs, festivals, commedia dell'artecharacters, beggars, courtiers, and hunchbacks. After Duke Cosimo II's death in 1621, Callot returned to Nancy, where he worked for the Lorraine court depicting fanciful scenes of daily life. Most of his painted decorations have been destroyed.
In Nancy, Callot approached his work with a new directness and seriousness. He added poignant religious subjects, siege compositions, and sensitive landscape drawings and etchings to his repertoire. In 1633, inspired by the Thirty Years War and Cardinal Richelieu's invasion of Lorraine, Callot created a series of prints called the Miseries of War. His devastating appraisals of human cruelty and folly were a source for Francisco de Goya y Lucientes's Disasters of War nearly two hundred years later.