Born in Florence in 1610, Stefano della Bella was initially apprenticed to a goldsmith, Orazio Vanni (fl. c. 1590-1620) but also studied painting under Cesare Dandini (1596-1697) and Giovanni Battista Vanni (1590-1660). However, his formal training, which was brief, was supplemented by teaching himself to draw; he is believed to have learnt to etch from Remigio Cantagallina (c.1582-1656), who may have also taught Jacques Callot (1592-1635).
Della Bella’s earliest prints may date from 1626 and show a marked similarity to the work of Callot, though this tendency is less marked in his work from the early 1630s. He left Florence for Rome in 1633 where he made many drawings of public events, contemporary life and the vestiges of antiquity.
In 1639 della Bella left for Paris where he lived until 1650. There he worked for the publishers Israël Henriet (c.1590-1661) and François Langlois (1588-1647), as well as undertaking work for Pierre Mariette (1596-1657) and Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin. His passion for recording contemporary life is born out in the diversity of figures found in his prints (one print showing a view of the Pont Neuf in Paris includes no less than 451 discretely formed figures) which range from military scenes to the French countryside.
Returning to Italy in 1650, della Bella produced work for the Medici court in Florence as well as contributing to designs for masques. He produced prints showing Italian life (including scenes of the Roman Campagna) and others drawing on his time in Paris.