Clovis le grand / Vaillant, sage..., from 'Game of the Kings of France' (Jeu des Rois de France)
Stefano della Bella (Italian, Florence 1610–1664 Florence)
Florentine artist Stefano Della Bella was among the best etchers of the Italian Baroque. He created about 1,050 prints and thousands of drawings. His earlier work was greatly influenced by the French Jacques Callot (1592-1635) who worked for the court of the Medici. Three of Stefano’s older brothers were artists. Della Bella probably learned etching from Remigio Cantagallina (1582/3-1656), who had been Callot’s teacher. Della Bella’s earliest prints date from around 1627. Della Bella received the patronage and a stipend from Lorenzo de’ Medici and studied in Rome. In 1639 he journeyed to Paris where Della Bella collected prints by Northern European artists, copied works by Rembrandt. He received commissions from Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin. His prints were innovative, seeming to look forward to the Rococo. Della Bella also engraved views of Paris. He visited Amsterdam in 1647. French anti-Italian feeling during the Fronde and the death of Mazarin during the late 1640s led to della Bella’s return to Florence. Della Bella produced some of his best work after his return. Della Bella is known to have illustrated some discoveries for Galileo and depicted Hansken the famous elephant, when dead. In his final years, he produced a number of prints experimenting with tonal effects attempting to achieve drawing effects in etching. In 1661 he appears to have suffered a stroke, after which he produced little work.