Plate 12: a shepherd sleeping on the ground to right, three horses to left, other horses and various figures to right, the Baths of Diocletian in the background, a round composition, from 'Roman landscapes and ruins' (Paysages et ruines de Rome)
The Baths of Diocletian (Thermae Diocletiani) in Rome were built from 298 to in 306. The Baths were commissioned by Maximian in honor of co-Emperor Diocletian in 298, the same year he returned from Africa. The Baths occupy the high-ground on the northeast summit of the Vimina hills in Rome. The water supply was provided by the Aqua Marcia and Aqua Antoniniana aqueducts. The Baths remained in use until the siege of Rome in 537 when the Ostrogothic king Vitiges cut off the aqueducts.
Renaissance representation of classical ruins was a symbol of antiquity, enlightenment, and lost knowledge. Ruins spoke to the passage of time. The greatest subject for ruin artists was the overgrown and crumbling Classical Rome remains. Forum and the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the Appian Way. Initially, art representations of Rome were realistic, but soon the imagination of artists took flight. Roman ruins were scattered around the city, but frustrated artists began placing them in more pleasing arrangements. Capriccio was a style of imaginary scenes of buildings and ruins.
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.