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Finding aid for the Stefano Della Bella etchings, circa 1642-1650
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • To request an item:
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Stefano Della Bella etchings
    Date (inclusive): circa 1642-1650
    Number: P830003
    Creator/Collector: Della Bella, Stefano, 1610-1664
    Physical Description: 35.0 prints (1 box)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    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.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in Italian

    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.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    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.

    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

    To request an item:

    Title of suite. Publisher, date.

    State of prints.

    Number of plates. Measurements.

    Bibliographic reference(s).


    Former Rare Book Number.
    Titles are listed exactly as they are rendered on the prints. Supplied titles are in brackets.
    Della Bella is the designer and etcher, and all entries are etchings.
    Publication information is taken directly from the prints and from bibliographic information.
    All measurements are in centimeters. For suites or pairs of prints, only one, usually the title page or the first print, has been measured. Pl. = platemark; Sh. = sheet. Al. = album page.
    Vesme = Alessandro Baudi di Vesme. Le peintre-graveur italien: ouvrage faisant suite au Peintre-graveur de Bartsch. Torino: Bottega d'Erasmo, 1971.
    Vesme/Massar = Alessandro Baudi di Vesme. Stefano della Bella; catalogue raisonne. With introduction and additions by Phyllis Dearborn Massar. [New York]: Collectors Editions, [1971].
    Guilmard = Désiré Guilmard. Les maîtres ornemanistes, dessinateurs, peintres, architectes, sculpteurs et graveurs; écoles française, italienne, allemande, et des Pays-Bas (flamande & hollandaise) . Paris, 1880-81: E. Plon.
    Berlin Kat. = Staatliche Kunstbibliothek (Berlin, Germany). Katalog der Ornamentstichsammlung der Staatlichen Kunstbibliothek, Berlin. Berlin; Leipzig: Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1939.


    Alessandro Baudi di Vesme. Le peintre-graveur italien: ouvrage faisant suite au Peintre-graveur de Bartsch. Torino: Bottega d'Erasmo, 1971.
    Alessandro Baudi di Vesme. Stefano della Bella; catalogue raisonne.With introduction and additions by Phyllis Dearborn Massar. [New York]: Collectors Editions, [1971].
    Anna Forlani Tempesti. Mostra di incisioni di Stefano Della Bella. Firenze: L.S. Olschki, 1973. Cataloghi 39 (Gabinetto disegni e stampe degli Uffizi).
    Ulrich Thieme und Felix Becker, eds. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart: unter Mitwirkung von 300 Fachgelehrten des In-und Auslandes. Leipzig: E. A. Seemann, 1907-1950.