Bella, Stefano De La

, an eminent engraver, was born at Florence in 1610. His father was a goldsmith, and instructed his son in the same business; but while, for the purposes of his trade, he was learning to draw, some of Callot’s prints, which he had accidentally seen, gave a turn to his disposition, and he prevailed on his father to allow him to learn engraving. His first master, Canta Gallina, had also been the master of Callot, and our young pupil, after contenting himself for some time with an imitation of Callot, struck out a manner of his own, equally, if not more remarkable for freedom and spirit. In 1642 he went to Paris, where he formed an acquaintance with Israel Sylvestre, then newly returned from Rome, and was much employed by the uncle of that artist. Some time after, cardinal Richelieu engaged him to go to Arras, to make drawings of the siege, &c. of that town by the royal army, which he engraved at his return. From a considerable residence at Paris he returned to Florence, where the grand duke gave him a pension, and appointed him to instruct his son, the prince Cosmo, in the art of design; but his progress in his profession had been for some time much impeded by continual head-aches, which at last terminated his life in 1664. Without entering into the dispute so frequently agitated, respecting the comparative merits of De la Bella and Callot, it may be affirmed that De la Bella drew very correctly, and with great taste. His works manifest much genius and fertility of invention. The fire and animation which appears in them compensates for their lightness; and some degree of slightness seems pardonable in an artist who is said to have engraved no less than fourteen hundred plates. 2


Strutt’s Dict. —Dict. Hist.