Around 1629 Testa moved from his native Tuscany to Rome, and remained there for most of his career. He first specialised in making copies after classical antiques and was employed in this capacity by Cassiano dal Pozzo and Vincenzo Giustiniani. He trained briefly under both Domenichino and Pietro da Cortona, and was much influenced by Poussin. He was a highly skilled draughtsman and one of the greatest etchers of his generation, but as a painter he met with little success. An ambitious artist with a liking for theory and complex imagery, it was probably his progressive disillusionment at his lack of recognition that drove him to commit suicide by drowning in Rome’s River Tiber.