DELLA BELLA, “The Medici Vase,” 1656


Etching, 24 x 22 inches

Plate # 1 from the set “Six Large Views of Rome and the Campagna”

Probably printed in 1730 by Prince Eugene de Savoie with the permission of the plate’s owner, the Grand duke of Tuscany

Catalogue raisonné: Alexandre de Vesme and Phyllis Dearborn Massar: #832, ii/ii



Stefano dell Bella (Italian 1610-1664)

Known as “Stefano,” Della Bella was a consummate engraver and draftsman who possessed a skilled and playful hand. He was an exact contemporary of Rembrandt, living at a time when graphic art commanded a large international audience.  With Medici patrons, Stefano had extensive commissions in Florence before going to Rome around 1683. He later worked for a dozen years in Paris.  Once back in Florence, he became a teacher to the young son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo Medici III, depicted in this large scale etching as he practiced drawing at the foot of the famous huge vase owned by the  princely family.

Phyllis Massar notes that “these various Roman views, checked against other contemporary and more purely topographic prints, are found to be extremely accurate. They are based on drawings made on the spot, many of which were in two sketchbooks (now dismantled) at the Uffizi. Some of the drawings have been published, see Egger:  “Römische Veduten, and Maganuco: Stefano della Bella.” Related drawings are in collections at Windsor, the Louvre, and the Uffizi.