Pietro Testa  (Italian, 1611-1650) 

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Pietro Testa, A Sheet of Studies of Putti at Rest and Play

 

Pietro Testa
A Sheet of Studies of Putti at Rest and Play
Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd
  
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Pietro Testa, Un jeune homme au service de la vertu et de la science et Un jeune homme arrivant sur le Parnasse par la voie de la vertu (2 works)

 

Pietro Testa
Un jeune homme au service de la vertu et de la science et Un jeune homme arrivant sur le Parnasse par la voie de la vertu (2 works)
etching

 

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Pietro Testa, Allegory in honour of the election of Pope Innocent X

 

Pietro Testa
Allegory in honour of the election of Pope Innocent X, 1644
etching

 

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Pietro Testa, Donna seduta

 

Pietro Testa
Donna seduta, 1600-1649
pencil on paper

 

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  A native of Lucca, a provincial city without an established local artistic tradition, Pietro Testa seems to have been essentially self-taught as an artist before his arrival in the late 1620’s in Rome, where he was to work for most of his brief career.
  His talents as a draughtsman were recognized early in his career, and one of his first commissions was to make drawings after antique sculpture in the collection of the connoisseur Vincenzo Giustiniani, to be reproduced as engravings and eventually published around 1631.
  Testa’s skill at drawing was also noted by Cassiano dal Pozzo, who employed the young artist on making drawn copies of antiquities for his so-called museo cartaceo.
  In the early 1630’s Testa worked in the studios of Domenichino and Pietro da Cortona, and it is also at this time that he began to produce prints of his own, having studied the techniques employed by the engravers working on the Giustiniani project.
  Testa may, in fact, be counted among the finest printmakers of the 17th century in Italy, producing in the 1630’s and 1640’s a number of splendid etchings of religious, allegorical, mythological or historical subjects, characterized by complex compositions and often on a fairly large scale.
  Most of his etchings seem to have been produced independently of any commissions, allowing him to retain control of the copper plates, and he seems to have supported himself by the sale of his prints.
  It may have been through Dal Pozzo that Testa met Nicolas Poussin, who also worked on the museo cartaceo, and who was to become a close friend and a powerful influence on his work.
  Although Testa achieved some success as a printmaker, it was as a painter that he wished to be recognized, and around 1637 he began to write a never completed treatise on painting.
  He never seems to have gained the fame or public recognition as a history painter that he hoped for, however.
  Unlike Poussin, he did not enjoy the patronage of a large circle of private collectors, while the handful of public commissions he earned as a painter were largely unappreciated and ignored.
  Indeed, it may have been his failure to establish himself as a painter that led to the melancholy disposition with which he is known to have been afflicted, and which may have been the cause of his death at the age of thirty-seven, a supposed suicide.