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Stefano Della Bella etchings, circa 1642-1650

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Title: Stefano Della Bella etchings
Dates: circa 1642-1650
Number: P830003
Creator/Collector: Della Bella, Stefano, 1610-1664
Extent: 35.0 prints (1 box)
Abstract: Four suites of etchings by Stefano della Bella, comprising 35 prints. Primarily decorative, they depict genre scenes of people and animals (in rural settings), fantastic vases, panels of grotesques, and the Medici Villa Demidoff and its gardens near Florence.
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Language: Collection material is in Italian
Repository: The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Author: Finding aid prepared by Anne-Marie Schaaf.

Biographical/Historical Note

Stefano Della Bella was born and died in Florence. His father, Francesco Della Bella, was a sculptor in Giambologna's workshop; and his brothers followed the trades of goldsmith, sculptor, and painter. He first worked in gold-and metalsmiths' workshops, then studied painting with Cesare Dandini, and finally studied etching, which became his chosen career. Supported by Don Lorenzo de Medici (d.1640), he worked in Florence from 1633 to 1639, with a series of trips to Rome to study from the antique. In 1639 he went to Paris, where he etched plates sold by François Langlois (called Ciartres, 1589-1647), Israël Henriet (ca1590-1661), and Pierre I Mariette (1603-57). He also received official commissions from Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin. He returned to Florence in 1650 after French hostility to Mazarin erupted in the Fronde and extended to all Italians. With the exception of a single trip to Rome, he remained in Florence until his death but continued to send plates and prints to Paris publishers. Retained by Prince Mattias de Medici, Della Bella gave drawing lessons to Mattias's nephew Cosimo III, the son of Grand Duke Ferdinand II (1610-70).

Throughout his life, Della Bella drew in the open air, reporting on important events and places and rarely copying others' compositions. He made over a thousand prints and thousands of drawings. He etched most of his plates himself, providing plates for his Medici patrons and Parisian commercial publishers. He etched subjects from the Bible and lives of the saints, portraits, and allegories. His genre scenes included images of animals, children, and exotic figures; and views of public life, rural scenes, marines, hunting, and military scenes. He represented actual places in topographic plans and views and actual events such as festivals or ceremonies. His ornament prints included ornaments for theses, frontispieces, vignettes, drawing aids, games, and rebuses; his delicate asymmetries, sense of fantasy, and inventiveness prefigure the rococo of a century later.

Scope and Content of Collection

From Della Bella's extensive oeuvre, this collection consists of merely four suites of etchings, all primarily decorative and all etched by Della Bella himself. Agreable diversité de figures depicts genre scenes of people and animals in France, mostly in rural settings (11 prints). The two suites of ornament prints depict fantastic vases ( Raccolta di vasi diversi, 6 prints) and panels of grotesques ( Ornamenti o grotesche, 12 prints). The final set depicts the Medici Villa Pratolino and its gardens near Florence, designed by Bernardo Buontalenti and constructed 1569-86 (6 prints).

These prints were part of the art books collection of Theodore Besterman (1904-1976).

Arrangement note

The prints are arranged in their 4 respective suites.



Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Contact Library Rights and Reproductions.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Corporate Bodies

Parco mediceo di Pratolino (Pratolino, Italy)

Subjects - Topics

Decoration and ornament, Baroque
Gardens--Italy--Pictorial works--Early works to 1800

Genres and Forms of Material

Etchings--France--17th century
Etchings--Italy--17th century
Prints--France--17th century
Prints--Italy--17th century

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Stefano Della Bella etchings, ca. 1642-1650, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. P830003.

Acquisition Information

Acquired in 1983, originally part of the Besterman collection.

Processing History

Anne-Marie Schaaf processed and rehoused this collection, removing all prints from acidic mats. The finding aid was completed in March 1996.

Container List

Four suites of Della Bella etchings, ca. 1642-1650 1.0 box(es)
1 Agreable diversité de figures
Paris, 1642: Israel Henriette. Between Vesme second and third states, mentioned in Vesme/Massar. 11 plates including title. Sh. 8.2 x 10.8. Vesme 117-127. Formerly R 434.
2 Raccolta di vasi diversi
n.p., n.d. [ca. 1645]. Third state. 6 plates including title. Pl. 9.3x 18.8; Sh. 21.7 x 29.2. Vesme 1040-1050. Berlin Kat. 1137. Guilmard p.315. Formerly R 457.
3 Ornamenti o grotesche
[Paris, 1648]. First state. 12 plates including title. Sh. 16.9 x 6.8; Al. 28.9 x 42.5. Vesme 1003-1014. Berlin Kat. 573. Guilmard, p.316. Three prints mounted on each album page. Formerly R 433.
4 [Gardens of Villa Pratolino]
n.p., n.d. [ca. 1650]. First state, except Vesme 839, which is second state. 6 plates. Pl. 25 x 36.6; Sh. 26.4 x 38.4. Vesme 838-843. Formerly R 434.