Berretini, Pietro

Da Cortona, an eminent artist, was born at Cortona, in 1596, and according to some writers, was a disciple of Andrea Commodi, though others affirm that he was the disciple of JBaccio C’iarpi and Argenville says, he was successively the disciple of both. He went young to Rome, and applied himself diligently to study the antiques, the works of Raphael, Buonaroti, and Polidoro by which he so improved his taste and his hand, that he distinguished himself in a degree superior to any of the artists of his time. And it seemed astonishing that two such noble designs as were the Rape of the Sabines, and the Battle of Alexander, which he painted in the Palazzo Sacchetti, conld be the product of so young an artist, when it was observed, that for invention, disposition, elevation of thought, and an excellent tone of colour, they were equal to the performances of the best masters. He worked with remarkable ease and freedom; his figures are admirably grouped; his distribution is elegant; and the Chiaroscuro is judiciously observed. Nothing can be more grand than his ornaments and where landscape is introduced, it is designed in a superior taste and through his whole compositions there appears an uncommon grace. But De Piles observes, that it was not such a grace as was the portion of Raphael and Correggio but a general grace, consisting rather in a habit of making the airs of his heads always agreeable, than in a choice of expressions suitable to each subject. By the best judges it seems to be agreed, that although this master was frequently incorrect though not always judicious in his expressions though irregular in his draperies, and apt to design his figures too short and too heavy yet, by the magnificence of his composition, the delicate airs of his faces, the grandeur of his decorations, and the astonishing suavity and gracefulness of the whole together, he must be allowed to have been the mo-t agreeable mannerist that any age hath produced. He had an eye for colour; but his colouring in fresco is far superior to what he performed in oil nor do his easel pictures appear as finished as might be expected from so great a master, when compared what what he painted in a larger size. Some of the most capital works of Pietro, in fresco, are in the Barberini palace at Rome, and the Palazzo Pitti at Florence. Of his oil-pictures, perhaps none excels the altar-piece of Ananias healing St. Paul, in the church of | the Concezione at Rome. Alexander VII. created him knight of the golden spur. The grand duke Ferdinand II. also conferred on him several marks of his esteem. That prince one day admiring the figure of a child weeping, which he had just painted, he only gave it one touch of the pencil, and it appeared laughing then, with another touch, he put it in its former state “Prince,” said Berretini, “you see how easily children laugh and cry.” He was so laborious, that the gout, with which he was tormented, did not prevent him rrom working but his sedentary life, in conjunction with his extreme application, augmented that cruel disease, of which he died in 1669. 1


Pilkington.—D’Argenville, &c.