Stefano Della Bella Biography

Stefano Della Bella



Printmaker Stefano della Bella was born in Florence, Italy, on May 17, 1610, into a family of artists. Originally trained as a goldsmith, he changed his trajectory to printmaking after working under engraver Orazio Vanni and then Cesare Dandini, who also instructed Jacques Callot. By age 17 he was participating in notable exhibitions, and was given official commissions by the Medici family>

In 1633 della Bella moved to Rome, where he resided in the Medici Palace for six years and began working on several series of works related to Rome, visits by foreign royalty, and views of the countryside, city, and major events. Among his most notable works was his rendition of the seminal writings on painting by Leonardo da Vinci, titled Trattato della Pittura, in which he included several engravings done after da Vinci's own work.

In addition to time in Rome, della Bella also spent time in Paris, Holland, and North Africa, studying the works of Old Masters and antiquities. He was commissioned by Galileo to illustrate some of the physicist's discoveries, and was a noted decorative artist whose highly detailed engravings were adapted into educational playing cards for young students. He would later become known for his use of ink washes in his prints, experiementing with tonal effects.

Though not as well remembered as other artists of his time, his work is often considered more progressive than that of many other printmakers and a pre-cursor to the Rococo period. After a stroke in 1661, his output dropped off considerably. He died in Florence on July 12, 1664. In all, by the end of his life he had created over 1,000 prints.