Art e Dossier

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Art History

Pietro da Cortona: biography

Born at Cortona in November 1596, Pietro Berrettini came from a family of stonecutters and masons. He did his first apprenticeship with Andrea Commodi who worked at Cortona from 1609 to 1612, and he probably accompanied his teacher to Rome where he stayed from 1612 to 1614. Cortona received his first important commission in 1616, to do the frescoes at the Villa Arrigoni-Muti at Frascati. While in Rome, the young artist met the most influential families such as the Barberini and Sacchetti. In 1624 he began working on the frescoes in the church of Santa Bibiana on a commission from Pope Urban VIII. After he painted the Portrait of Cardinal Giulio Sacchetti in 1626 the prelate commissioned him to decorate the country house at Castel Fussano. Between 1628 and 1631 he painted the Rape of the Sabine Women for Marcello Sacchetti and the Trinity for the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter’s Basilica and became one of the upcoming figures on the Roman artistic scene. During the fourth decade of the century Pietro did considerable work for the Barberini family in the chapel of their family palazzo and for their tapestry works. Between 1632 and 1639, albeit with interruptions the artist painted the frescoes in the Barberini salon. Then, in 1637 he accompanied Giulio Sacchetti to Bologna. He stopped in Florence where Ferdinando II de’ Medici commissioned him to fresco the Sala della Stufa in the Palazzo Pitti. After a short trip to Venice he returned to Rome and resumed working for the Barberini family. In the spring of 1641 the painter was back in Florence where he remained until 1647 completing the Sala della Stufa and the rooms of the planets. During his Florentine sojourn he frescoed the Venus, Jupiter and Mars rooms and part of the Apollo room which was later completed by Ciro Ferri. While he was working for Ferdinando II painting the frescoes in the Palazzo Pitti, he also undertook a series of other projects that included the Nativity for the Chiesa Nuova in Perugia (1643) and the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence for the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda (1647). When he returned to Rome definitively in 1647 he worked on major painting cycles and architectural projects that included the frescoes in the dome of Santa Maria in Vallicella (1648-1660), the gallery in the Palazzo Pamphili in Piazza Navona (1651-1654), the piazza and façade of Santa Maria della Pace (1656-1657) and the façade of Santa Maria in Via Lata (1658-1662). In 1652, together with the Jesuit, Father Ottonelli he published the Trattato della Pittura e Scultura. The artist continued his work painting mainly altar pieces for churches in Rome, Venice and Pistoia. Pietro da Cortona, ill with gout died on 16 May 1669.


The works