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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Stefano della Bella

Stefano della Bella (1610–1664) was born in Florence, where as a young man he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. He soon became an engraver and went on to study etching with Remigio Cantagallina (about 1582–1656). His early work showed the influence of his teacher and of the renowned French etcher, Jacques Callot (1592–1635), who also studied with Cantagallina. Callot’s masterful series, Les Grandes Misères et Malheurs de la Guerre (The Great Miseries and Misfortunes of War) is included in the exhibition (see pp. 76–82).Della Bella left Florence for Rome, where he produced many drawings after the antique which he later adapted for prints. During this time he was exposed to the Baroque art that filled the churches and palazzi of Rome and his artistic style was altered by the experience. In 1639 he went to Paris where he lived and worked until political upheaval forced him to return to Italy in 1649. In Paris Cardinal Richelieu employed him to document the battles of the French military (see The Siege, p. 4).