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The Printed World: Masterpieces of Seventeenth-Century Printmaking

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Four Ears, from the series "Book for the Study of Drawings"

circa 1641-1649
1 5/16 x 1 1/16 in. (3.4 x 2.6 cm)

Stefano della Bella (Florence (Firenze province, Tuscany, Italy), 1610 - 1664)

Object Type: Prints
Medium and Support: etching on paper
Credit Line: The I. Webb Surratt, Jr. Print Collection
Accession Number: M1996.01.27.e

Curator
The Printed World: Masterpieces of Seventeenth-Century Printmaking
Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art
February 03 through March 24, 2019
The title page with two children drawing in a sumptuously bound album decorated with a coat of arms suggests that this book is meant for noble amateurs rather than professional artists. The plates include studies of heads, faces, ears, eyes, mouths. hands, and feet, showing novice artists how to render these details. Also included are studies of various types: young and old men, and beautiful women, some classically calm types strikingly contrasting with more extravagant examples.

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The Human Figure, Archetype and Actuality: Works from the Collection
January 21, 2009 to March 06, 2009
Owing in part to Baldessare Castiglione’s 1528 guidebook for nobility, The Book of the Courtier, drawing and art making became a popular pastime among European royalty and nobles. In 1656, della Bella was the drawing instructor of Cosimo III de’Medici, who later became the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Della Bella’s Book for the Study of Drawings includes sketches of a variety of body parts, such as ears, hands, and feet. Apart from giving advice to pupils, the prints were also designed to raise the status in royal courts of artists, who were regarded with the same lowly status as millers and butchers.

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