The Italian illustrator, etcher, and painter Stefano della Bella was born on March 18, 1610 in Florence. In 1620, Bella joined the workshop of the goldsmith Giovanni Battista Fossi. A short time later, he switched to the studio of the engraver and medal-maker Gasparo Mola (1580 1640). The goldsmith Orazio Vanni had the artist first copy engravings by Jaques Callots (1592 1635) . Remigio Cantagallina (approx. 1582 1656), who was Callots teacher, helped Stefano della Bella in the beginning and sent him to Cesare Dandini (1592 1658). This is where the artist began training as a painter starting in 1625. He dedicated the earliest dated etching, the "Banquet of the Piacevoli" from 1627, to the brother of Grand Duke, Giancarlo deMedici (1611 63). Beginning in September 1629, Bella was given the protection of Lorenzo deMedici (1449 92). In 1630, he made a copy of Leonardo da Vincis (1452 1519) "Trattato della Pitturan", which he illustrated with approx. 50 explanatory sketches.
In 1633 at the latest, Lorenzo deMedici sent Stefano della Bella to Rome to learn painting with a monthly grant and lodging in the Palazzo Madama. During that same year, Bella etched the "Entry of the Polish Ambassador" on six plates that were lined up to form a frieze. This period of creativity in Rome resulted in numerous views of Rome, Tivoli, the Roman Campagna, ruins, and street scenes. Stefano della Bella loved portraying topics relevant to the current times. The sequence of six ocean views engraved in 1634 are evidence of the influence of Agostino Tassi (1580 1644). In June 1634, Bella interrupted his stay in Rome to visit Florence. In the subsequent years of 1637 39, he continually remained in Florence. His name appeared with the official job title of intagliatore among the artists employed at the court of the Medici in 1637. This year was also characterized by Bellas close cooperation with Alfonso Parigi (1606 56). In 1638, he produced his first topographical description of a military campaign with the "Map of the Siege of Saint-Omer". In 1639, Bella joined the mission for sending congratulations to the French court on the birth of Louis XIV (1638 1715). He was commissioned by Richelieu (1585 1642) to etch the "View of the Sieged City of Arras" in 1641. The drawing of an allegory in honor of Richelieau, which is attributed to Bella, was created that same year. The publisher Francois Langlois commissioned the artist to draw copies based on Callot in 1642. In addition to Langlois, Israel Henriet (? - 1661), Callots Parisian publisher, was the most important buyer of Bellas plates. Together with Israel Silvestre (1621 91), Henriets nephew, he etched a sequence of architectural views.
Beginning in 1645, the artist was enlisted by Anne dAutrich (1601 66) for drawings of all performances at the "Théâtre du Petit Bourbon". He designed a title page and drew the animal ballets that performed as an interlude for the opera "La Finta Pazza". In 1649, Bella participated in the work "Les Triomphes de Louis le Juste XIII" by Jean Valdor (1616 70) in honor of Louis XIII (1601 43).
He returned to his hometown in 1650 and entered into the service of Matthias deMedicis (1613 67). He instructed the young Cosimo III (1642 1723) in drawing. In addition, he was accepted into the Florentine literary circle of the Accademia degli Apasti. This marked the peak of his career.
In his last phase of creativity, Stefano della Bella produced the etched sequences "La Gara delle Stagioni, the Six Views of the Villa Pratolino" (1652), the "Views of the Harbor of Livorno" (1656), and "Six Views of Rome and the Roman Campagna". Three of Bellas etchings illustrate the work of Moniglias "Il Mondo Festeggiante", which documented the festivities for the wedding between Cosimo III and Marguerite Louise dOrléans (1645 1721) in 1661.
Stefano della Bella died in his native town of Florence on July 22, 1664.