Della Bella, The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
In this engraving, artist Stefano della Bella (1610-1664) illustrates a corner of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina facing a pasture filled with farmers and their cattle. Though only a small portion of the temple is visible in the foreground on the right side of this scene, the monument towers above the pastoral setting below. Della Bella clearly delineates a series of sculptural reliefs representing griffons throughout a frieze that runs along the temple’s attic. Below this frieze, three Corinthian columns appear to remain steady. The age of the monument appears to be emphasized with dark, dramatic shading that also allows the Temple’s outline to be highlighted against a series of lighter, swirling clouds. The cattle positioned in the foreground are also caught in this dark shadow, perhaps a cloud, and their detailed bodies are highlighted against the sunlit center portion of the plain. Across the pasture, a structure perhaps representing the ruins of the Regia, faces the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, and is shown overgrown with plants and trees. Overall, della Bella’s engraving seems to convey a sense of the monument’s old age and irrelevancy in his contemporary society, by illustrating it in the center of a pasture. Yet he also appears to hint at the past splendor of the temple, and enables the viewer to see that ancient monuments such as this temple still maintain a presence in the cultural history of Rome.