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The Arrival in Florence

While the gnarled tree and quaint travelers suggest a capriccio (or invented scene), one scholar notes that della Bella’s prints “checked against other contemporary and more purely topographic prints, are found to be extremely accurate.” In this scene, the architecture of Florence is clearly visible in the background.

Although della Bella’s prints were likely based on sketchbook drawings made on the spot, an ink drawing by him (now in the Library of Congress) depicting the use of a camera obscura—a pre-photographic tool that projected an inverted reflection of nature through a small hole in a wall—suggests that della Bella may have employed such mechanical aids. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes all four plates in this series (Eskenazi Museum of Art 98.259.1–.4).

Stefano della Bella
Italian, 1610–1664
The Arrival in Florence from Four Large Landscapes from Above
Etching on paper
Image: 9 ¼ x 7 ¼ in. (23.5 x 18.4 cm); plate: 9 11/16 x 7 5/16 in. (24.6 x 18.8 cm); sheet: 10 5/16 x 7 15/16 in. (26.3 x 20.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.259.4