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Sunday 14 June 2020

Stefano della Bella’s etching, “Bataille des Amalecites”, c.1649

Stefano della Bella (1610–1664)

“Bataille des Amalecites”, c.1649 (1645–52). From what I understand, this print was once believed to be a late print by Della Bella (based on Jombert’s 1663 attribution), but as De Vesme & Massar (1971) in the catalogue raisonné point out, such a late date makes no sense: (transl.) “If that is the case, it is surpising to see that the artist has marked it with the privilege of the King of France” (p. 44; see also the explanation offered at AbeBooks:

Etching on laid paper trimmed unevely around the image borderline and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (unevenly trimmed sheet) 12.8 x 28.8 cm; (image borderline) 10.6 x 28.1 cm.
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Stef. Della Bella In. et fe.”; (left of centre) “Tædeat haud suplices …/ … jpse prece”; (centre) “'Bataille des Amalecites”; (right of centre) “O Grand legislateur esleue au Ciel …/ …mille coutelas.”; (right) “Cum priuil. Regis”.

State ii (of ii) with the addition of the title and Latin and French verses. The British Museum holds a copy of the first state of this print (see

De Vesme/Massar 3.ii (Alexandre de Vesme & Phyllis D. Massar, 1971, “Stefano della Bella. Catalogue Raisonné”, New York, Collectors Editions, [Text] p. 44, cat. no. 44.3.ii, [Illust.] p. 3, cat. no. 3 ii/ii); Jombert (Della Bella) 226 (Charles Antoine Jombert 1772, “Essai d'un catalogue de l'oeuvre d'Etienne de la Belle, peintre et graveur florentin”, Paris, p. 194, cat. no. 226).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The battle of the Amalekites; in the foreground, several Amalekite warriors fleeing to left on horseback, followed by Israelites, with a dead horse and rider at left and a dead man at right; with a battlefield behind and the figures of Moses, Aaron and Hur standing on a mountain summit in the distance to right. c.1649”

See also the description of this print offered byThe Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: strong and well-printed impression with a narrow margin around the platemark at the top and sides and trimmed unevenly within the platemark on the lower edge. There is a small dot in the sky at upper right otherwise the sheet is in very good condition.

I am selling this graphically strong panoramic view of a battle and with Moses, Aaron and Hur standing on the mountain summit at far right—they are so small that a microscope is almost needed to see them!—for AU$320 (currently US$219.93/EUR195.32/GBP175.25 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this exceptional etching by one of the most famous of the old master printmakers capturing the speed of the Amalekite horsemen with small but critcally important details such as the repeated angles of their lances and the horizontal lines under their horses’ hooves, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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