Stefano Della Bella

Rider in Landscape against the Wind

Rider in Landscape against the Wind by Stefano Della Bella

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This drawing by the Florentine artist Stefano della Bella (1610-1664) is executed in della Bella’s characteristic technique, with underdrawing in black chalk elaborated with brown ink and the judicious use of grey wash. The work is linked thematically to a number of his prints depicting weary travellers and their mounts in the landscape. Several of della Bella’s prints of related subjects are found in the Gallery’s collection and reveal the artist’s keen appreciation of the rigours of travel during that period.

In this scene a horse and rider are seen making their way up a rise in a path. The rider is wrapped against the cold in a large cloak or blanket, the right-hand end of which flaps in the strong wind. The form of the cloak suggests the body concealed beneath, particularly the arms (held across the torso) and thighs. His wide-brimmed hat, decorated with feathers (possibly ostrich plumes), is worn low on his head and, with his chin tucked into his cloak, only his nose is visible. The horse is similarly bowed with its head down into the wind and mane flying. This drawing beautifully captures the labour of the horse as it carries its burden up the rise in the path.

Two further mounted figures are suggested in the background. The absence of legs on the second horse suggests that the party is fording a stream, which would mean that the foremost horse is making its way up the riverbank.

With the exception of the immediate foreground, where a path has been indicated, the landscape, including the clouds, has been loosely suggested with rapidly executed lines in pen and ink over some initial marks in chalk.

Rider in Landscape against the Wind
Production date
circa 1626-1667
paper, ink, wash, black chalk
151 x 193 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2014
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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