From 1634 to 1636, Pietro da Cortona was a head of the Academy of St. Luke.
Pietro studied in Rome from about 1612 under the minor Florentine painters Andrea Commodi and Baccio Ciarpi and was influenced by antique sculpture and the work of Raphael.
The most important of Pietro da Cortona's earliest paintings were three frescoes (1624 – 1626) in Santa Bibiana, Rome. In the 1620s he designed the Villa del Pigneto near Rome and possibly another villa at Castel Fusano, both for his patrons, the Sacchetti family.
His fame reached its climax in the 1630s with the design of the church of SS. Luca e Martina, Rome (1635 – 1650), and the ceiling fresco Allegory of Divine Providence (1633 – 1639) in the Barberini Palace there. The design of SS. Luca e Martina derives more from Florentine than Roman sources, resulting in a different type of Baroque architecture from that of either Bernini or Borromini. The ceiling of the Great Hall in the Barberini Palace (now the National Gallery) was conceived as a painted glorification of the Barberini pope, Urban VIII, and is treated illusionistically. Its strong colour and steep perspective recall Veronese, whose work Cortona may have seen in Venice in 1637.
Also in 1637 Pietro visited Florence, where he began painting the frescoes representing the Four Ages of Man for Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany in the Pitti Palace. In 1640 he returned to finish these and paint the ceilings of a suite of apartments in the palace named after the planets. He treated the entire surface as a single spatial unit, adding a wealth of real stucco decoration, partly gilt, in the carvings. He returned to Rome in 1647, where he painted the vault frescoes of Santa Maria in Vallicella and the ceiling of the long gallery of the Pamphili Palace in Piazza Navona (1651 – 1654) for Pope Innocent X. His chief architectural works of this period were the facades of Santa Maria della Pace (1656 – 1657), perhaps his most ingenious conception, and Santa Maria in Via Lata in Rome (1658 – 1662).
He also produced designs for the modernization of the Pitti Palace and the east front of the Louvre in Paris (1664). He painted religious and mythological easel pictures throughout his life. From 1634 to 1636 he was head of the Academy of St. Luke in Rome. Despite a correspondence in feeling between his architecture and his painting, there is little physical connection between them, and he never decorated one of his own churches.
The Golden Age1637
The Age of Iron1641
Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power1639
The Rape of the Sabine Women1629
Romulus and Remus Given Shelter by Faustulus1634
The Martyrdom of Saint Stephen1660
Study for the Age of Silver1635
Madonna and Saints1628
Ceiling Fresco with Medici Coat of Arms1644
The Triumph of Divine Providence1639
Ananias restoring the sight of Saint Paul1631
Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence
The Copper Age
Holy Family Resting on the Flight to Egypt1643
Landing of the Trojans at the Mouth of Tiberis1654
The Alliance of Jacob and Laban1635
Pope Urbanus VIII (Maffeo Barberini)1627
The Age of Bronze1641
The Guardian Angel1656
Ceiling Fresco in the Hall of Saturn1665
Venus Appearing to Aeneas as a Huntress1631
The Age of Gold
Virgin and Child with Saints
Study for the Age of Silver1637
Return of Hagar1637