Stefano Della Bella (Florence 1610 - 1664 Florence)
A Cavalier on Horseback with Subsidiary Studies of Battlefield
Pen and black chalk and brown ink on paper, watermark letter C (?), 130 x 208 mm (5.2 x 8.1 inch), laid down onto a piece of backing paper with framing lines in brown ink
- From an album of drawings by Della Bella assembled in the early 19th century, formerly in the collection of the 1st Earl of Gainsborough
- By descent to his daughter, who married the 9th Earl of Southesk, Master of Kinnaird, then preserved in the Kinnaird Castle library
- The album dispersed in 1946, and the drawings sold individually through the Arcade Gallery, London;
-Christie's, Rome, 4 October 1983, lot 81, repr.
- Private collection, United Kingdom
The hugely talented and prolific artist Stefano Della Bella succeeded Jacques Callot as Medici court designer and printmaker. Between 1639 and 1650 he worked in France, establishing a flourishing career in Paris and publishing numerous prints; indeed, the majority of his prints date from this fertile period. After his return to Florence in 1650, Della Bella continued to enjoy Medici patronage. His oeuvre numbers over 1,000 etchings, and many times more drawings; all works of considerable energy and inventiveness. Interestingly, Della Bella is one of the earliest recorded purchasers of etchings by Rembrandt.
In this sheet Della Bella has depicted a cavalier on horseback. He was fascinated by horses and riders and many studies survive in which the artist studies this iconography. Truly astonishing are the miniature-size pen studies in the lower left and right corners of the sheet. Again, they are studies of cavalrymen and horses, but their lilliputian scale is almost unique in the whole history of art, and they masterly illustrate Della Bella's skill.
This drawing was once part of an important album of drawings by Stefano Della Bella formerly in the collection of the Earl of Gainsborough, and later in the library of Kinnaird Castle.
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