Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas with Pietro da Cortona

When I brought together many  different European paintings of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence in a recent post, a special favorite of mine was the one above by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669). The painter's name was already familiar to me, but only from one other work – his gigantic frescoed ceiling hovering high above the Grand Salon of Palazzo Barberini. Everybody in my party ardently agreed this was an enchanting and mighty sight as we craned necks in unison to gaze up into its borderless wonders early last year in Rome (including Mabel Watson Payne, seven months old and the easiest possible traveler).

Sources seemed to agree that Pietro da Cortona had not made the kind of  popular comeback in recent years enjoyed by his Roman peers and contemporaries – Caravaggio, Bernini and Borromini. I wondered why not. Prompted by curiosity, and by my recent encounter with Saint Lawrence, and by the memory of that Roman ceiling, I decided to look at a few more of the paintings. And pry into their mysteries to the best of my powers.

1. Saint Lawrence, 1653
2. The Calling of Peter and Andrew, 1626
3. Landscape, 1650
4. Rape of the Sabine Women, 1627
5. Pietà, 1620
6. Romulus and Remus Given Shelter by Faustulus, 1643
7. Return of Hagar, 1637
8. Ananias Restoring the Sight of Saint Paul, 1631
9. Virgin with Saints, 1628
10. Saint Cecilia, 1630
11. The Age of Bronze, 1641
12. The Age of Gold, 1637