The name of this illustrious painter and architect was Berrettini, and he was born at Cortona, near Florence, in 1596. At the age of fourteen he went to Rome, where he studied the works of Raffaelle and Caravaggio with the greatest assiduity. It is said that at first he betrayed but little talent for painting, but his genius burst forth suddenly, to the astonishment of those companions who had laughed at his incapacity; this doubtless was owing to his previous thorough course of study. While yet young, he painted two pictures for the Cardinal Sacchetti, representing the Rape of the Sabines, and a Battle of Alexander, which gained him so much celebrity that Pope Urban VIII. commissioned him to paint a chapel in the church of S. Bibiena, where Ciampelli was employed. The latter at first regarded with contempt the audacity of so young a man's daring to attempt so important a public work, but Cortona had no sooner commenced than Ciampelli's disgust changed to admiration of his abilities. His success in this performance gained him the celebrated work of the ceiling of the grand saloon in the Barberini palace, which is considered one of the greatest productions of the kind ever executed. Cortona was invited to Florence by the Grand Duke Ferdinand II., to paint the saloon and four apartments in the Pitti palace, where he represented the Clemency of Alexander to the family of Darius, the Firmness of Porsena, the Continence of Cyrus, the History of Massanissa, and other subjects. While thus employed, the Duke, one day, having expressed his admiration of a weeping child which he had just painted, Cortona with a single stroke of his pencil made it appear laughing, and with another restored it to its former state; "Prince," said he, "you see how easily children laugh and cry." Disgusted with the intrigues of some artists jealous of his reputation, he left Florence abruptly, without completing his works, and the Grand Duke could never persuade him to return. On his return to Rome, he abounded with commissions, and Pope Alexander VII. honored him with the order of the Golden Spur. Cortona was also distinguished as an architect. He made a design for the Palace of the Louvre, which was so highly approved by Louis XIV. that he sent him his picture richly set in jewels. Cortona was a laborious artist, and though tormented with the gout, and in affluent circumstances, he continued to paint till his death, in 1699.