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The Eagle and Eaglet (L’Aigle et L’Aiglon)

This print is one of twenty-six plates, which together comprise a devotional book illustrating the life of the Virgin Mary through symbols and small scenes. Many of the episodes of the Virgin’s life represented in this work come from apocryphal texts, works deemed to be outside of accepted doctrine. This series is especially interesting because Callot chose imagery not usually associated with the Virgin’s life.

In this scene, an eagle is depicted carrying its eaglet toward the sun. The text refers to the apocryphal story of the young Virgin’s Presentation at the Temple by her parents, Joachim and Anna. According to medieval bestiaries, eagles were believed to transport their infants towards the sun in order to make them fearless. In this image, Mary (the eaglet) is exposed for the first time to the Word of God (the sun), and prepares to enter the temple, where she will spend her childhood and gain the strength and faith she will need during her turbulent adult life. The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes all twenty-six prints, plus frontispiece, in this series (Eskenazi Museum of Art 98.242.1–.27).

Jacques Callot
French, 1592–1635
The Eagle and Eaglet (L’Aigle et L’Aiglon), Plate 4 from The Life of the Virgin in Symbols
ca. 1625 (2nd ed.)
Etching on paper
Sheet: 6 15/16 x 4 7/16 (17.6 x 11.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.242.5