Born in 1611, Pietro Testa is among the most renowned Italian printmakers and draftsmen of his time. He desired fame as a history painter, but never achieved it. In the late 1620s, Testa drew hundreds of antiquities for engravings and for various patrons in Rome. In the early 1630s, he entered Pietro da Cortona’s studio, only to be thrown out for his difficult personality.
Testa had a brief interlude in Lucca before returning to Rome to study coloring and concentrate on drawing and etching, where his greater skills lay. While in Rome, Testa rejected Baroque illusionism and the concept of copying nature like the Dutch Italianates. He used themes from ancient history and employed a severe, monumental style that anticipated Neoclassicism. Following career setbacks, Testa became preoccupied with tragic themes. His death, a result of drowning in the Tiber River, is thought to have been a suicide.