Etching, signed in the plate and dedicated Dno Stefano Garbesi Nobili Viro optime de se merito / Petrus Testa beneficiorum non immemor DD. In the lower left Si Stampano alla Pace per Gio Jacomo de Rossi/ in Roma all insegna di Parigi. A very good impression of the third state of four, according Cropper. Bartsch 31; Bellini 25; Cropper cat. nos 85 and 86. Watermark anchor within a circle with letters M L, surmounted by a star. To the platemark 397 x 497 mm; the full sheet 415 x 497. Minimal faults, generally in very good condition.
Innocent X Pamphili was elected pope on September 15, 1664. For those who had prospered under the Barberini patronage his election brought hard times. Testa’s own patron Girolamo Buonvisi left Rome for Lucca, and with the production of this print the artist hoped to find fresh patronage. For the complex iconography of this etching see Elizabeth Cropper, Pietro Testa, 1612-1650: Prints and Drawings. Philadelphia (Philadelphia Museum of Art), 1988; cat. nos 85 and 86.
Pietro Testa, one of the most remarkable artists in the circle of Nicolas Poussin, was an enigmatic and melancholic painter active in Rome from about 1630 until his early death in 1650. Around 1629 Testa moved from his native Tuscany to Rome, and remained there for most of his career. He first specialised in making copies after classical antiques and was employed in this capacity by Cassiano dal Pozzo and Vincenzo Giustiniani. He trained briefly under both Domenichino and Pietro da Cortona, and was much influenced by Poussin. Testa was a highly skilled draughtsman and one of the greatest etchers of his generation, but as a painter he met with little success. He was, moreover, a genuine independent, almost in the modern sense, working for himself more than for others and often looking for patrons to whom he could dedicate his prints only after he had produced ambitious and time-consuming inventions on the plate. An ambitious artist with a liking for theory and complex imagery, it was probably his progressive disillusionment at his lack of recognition that drove him to commit suicide by drowning in Rome’s River Tiber.