Stefano della Bella
Florence 1610 1664 Florence
Head of an old Woman

PROVENANCE: The Folio Society, Collectors Corner, Stock D4372/4; Professor Raymond E. Pahl, FBA (1935-2011).

Pen and ink, some later additions(?), laid down

45 x 45 mm. (1 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.), laid onto a larger sheet 71 x 53 mm. (2 3/4 x 2 1/4 in.)


Della Bella trained in Florence as a goldsmith, and first began etching in the manner of Jaques Callot (1592-1635), who had worked in the city from circa 1612 until 1620. In 1633 della Bella was given a stipend by Lorenzo deMedici and sent to Rome, and by 1639 he was in Paris in the company of the Florentine ambassador. It was whilst there that he produced theatre and festival designs, topographic works, book illustrations, and ornamental prints for several of the many print publishers then active in Paris. Della Bella had the patronage of the Medici family throughout his career. He executed over 1,000 prints.

Our drawing was probably cut from a larger sheet of studies, as was often the case with drawings, and is typical of his pen and ink technique, and can be compared to many drawings, such as a Gesturing Nude Man at Bowdoin College.1 There is a large collection of della Bella drawings at Windsor Castle, and our drawing is comparable to many of those.2

1.David P. Becker, Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College, Maine, 1985, no.58, pp.126-7.

2.A. Blunt, The Drawings of G.B. Castiglione & Stefano della Bella in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle, Phaidon, 1954, pp.93-100, in particular catalogue number 34.

This is catalogue Number 23, in the on-line e-catalogue of 'Drawings, Prints and Paintings from the Collection of Professor Raymond E. Pahl, FBA (1935-2011)', see here for the catalogue.