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The history of the Huguenots according to Chodowiecki

Biography and artistic work of Chodowiecki

Nicholas Daniel Chodowiecki was born in Danzig on 16th October 1726 as son of the corn merchant Gottfried Chodowiecki (1698-1740) and Marie Henriette Ayrer. Biography of Chodowiecki »

History of the Huguenots according to Erman and Reclam

"Mémoires pour servir á l'histoire des Réfugiés François dans les États du Roi" by Jean Pierre Erman and Frédéric Reclam, Berlin 1782-1799.
Nine etchings by Daniel Chodowiecki illustrating the nine volumes of the great historical work by the Rev. Jean Pierre Erman (1733-1814) and the Rev. Pierre Chrétien Frédéric Reclam (1741-1789) on the settlement of the Huguenots in Brandenburg.


  • Viviane Rosen-Prest: Daniel Chodowiecki als Illustrator der Mémoires des Réfugiés von Erman und Reclam. In: Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert und Jochen Desel (Hg.): Daniel Chodowiecki (1726-1801).
  • Ein hugenottischer Künstler und Menschenfreund in Berlin. Bad Karlshafen 2001. = GDHG Bd. 34.
  • Viviane Rosen-Prest, L'historiographie des Huguenots en Prusse au temps de Lumières. Entre mémoire, histoire et légende: J.P. Erman et C.F. Reclam. Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire des Réfugiés françois dans les États du Roi (1782-1799).


6 Marginal vignettes on
"Die Flucht der Offenbacher nach Hanau" (E 834)
(The Flight from Offenbach to Hanau)
Etchings by Daniel Chodowiecki, 1796

In the war of France against Prussia and Austria, the French took Frankfurt am Main, Mainz and Offenbach in October 1792. Many inhabitants of Offenbach fled to the neighbouring Hessian town of Hanau which was not involved in the hostilities. In the margins of one of the plates showing the layout of the town, Chodowiecki inserted tiny vignettes expressing his conception of flight.

Calas's Farewell

Etching by Daniel Chodowiecki, 1767 (E 48)
Jean Calas was a highly respected cloth merchant in Toulouse. In October 1761 he was accused of having murdered his eldest son Marc Antoine to prevent his conversion to Catholicism. The young lawyer had in actual fact committed suicide. In a sensational trial Calas was condemned to death and broken on the wheel on 10th March 1762 while protesting his innocence.

The French philosopher Voltaire, angered by this travesty of justice, took up the case, demanding in a treatise religious toleration. All over Europe people were enraged at this legal error. By his vigorous intervention Voltaire obtained the vindication of Calas and the restitution of the property which the French state had seized.

On his etching Cholowiecki shows the Calas family in prison taking leave of their father who is in fetters .In the background two soldiers and a monk are waiting to lead the prisoner off. Chodowiecki's sympathetic treatment of this emotional and dramatic situation was an immediate success, securing the artist's breakthrough as a recognized engraver and illustrator.
Gift of the Consistory of the French Church of Berlin

Chodowiecki and the Massacre of Bartholomew's

The lower half of plate LXXXIII belongs to the general theme of persecution of dissidents and heretics. Unlike the upper half which is divided into quarters, the lower half extends over the entire breadth of the plate, endowing it with increased significance. It portrays the Massacre of St Bartholomew's Day in the heart of the French capital. Although Chodowiecki was descended from Huguenots on his mother's side, he had never been to France and could not draw on personal knowledge of the scene of the event when creating an artistic representation.

Chodowiecki's Goddess of Toleration

In the "Göttinger Taschenkalender"(Göttingen pocket calendar) Chodowiecki took up the themes of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution in six etchings. In this series "The Goddess of Toleration" has a special place. In the antique figure of Minerva holding a lance, she is protecting the representatives of different religions gathered at her feet. (E661)

Psalm books

Three etchings by Daniel Chodowiecki adorning the title pages of three French psalters in Berlin - etchings 1759, 1782 and 1791
For the French Church in Berlin of which he was a member, Chodowiecki depicted King David playing the harp, symbolizing the praise due to God.They illustrate three Psalm books of the congregation.

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