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Wednesday 23 February 2022

Stefano della Bella’s etching, “Head of a Sad Boy”, 1650

Stefano della Bella (1610–1664)

“Head of a Sad Boy” (aka “Hoofd van een treurig jongetje” [Rijksmuseum title]); “Bust of a Child with the Left Hand Close to the Chin”; “Buste d'enfant ayant la main gauche proche du menton” [De Vesme/Massar title]), 1650, plate 13 from the series of 17 plates (including the title plate), “Diverses Têtes et Figures” (aka “Various Heads and Figures”; “Various Tests and Figures”) , published by Israël Henriet (c1590–1661) with privilege of the French Crown in Paris.

Etching on fine laid buff paper with a narrow margin around the platemark.

Size: (sheet) 7.1 x 7.9 cm; (plate) 6.3 x 7.4 cm

Inscribed in plate at lower left: “Israel ex.”

State i (of i) a lifetime impression based on the quality of line showing no sign of wear to the printing plate.

De Vesme/Massar 320 (Alexandre de Vesme & Phyllis D. Massar, 1971, “Stefano della Bella. Catalogue Raisonné”, New York, Collectors Editions, [Text] p. 91, cat. no. 320, [Illust.] p. 83, cat. no. 320); Jombert (Della Bella) 168-13 (Charles Antoine Jombert 1772, “Essai d'un catalogue de l'oeuvre d'Etienne de la Belle, peintre et graveur florentin”, Paris, p. 164, cat. no. 168-13).

The British Museum offers the following (incorrect?) description of this print: “Child in the act of writing; head and shoulders, in profile facing left and looking down whilst writing. 1650 Etching” ( Note that there may be an error in the description of this plate as the catalogue raisonnê number given (De Vesme/Massar 321) is for a different etching to the one illustrated on the website. The description is for and the correct description I believe matches the one offered for the latter print: “Bust of a baby; turned slightly towards left, its hand by its chin. 1650 Etching”.

See also the description of this print offered by the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression in an excellent condition for its age with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions or stains or foxing.

I am selling this small and delicately etched head of a young boy, for AU$244 (currently US$175.54/EUR156/GBP130.02 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 tiny but very beautiful study by one of the most famous of the old master printmakers, 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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