(b Cortona, Tuscany, 1 Nov. 1596; d Rome, 16 May 1669). Italian painter, architect, decorator, and designer, second only to Bernini as the most versatile genius of the full Roman Baroque style. He is named after the town of his birth, where he probably had some training with his father, a stonemason, before settling in Rome in about 1612. His first major works there were frescos in the church of S. Bibiana (1624–6), commissioned by Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini), and the patronage of the Barberini family played a major part in his career. For their palace he painted his most famous work, a huge fresco, Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, on the ceiling of the Gran Salone. He began this in 1633, but interrupted the work in 1637 to go to Florence, where he painted two frescos commissioned by the Grand Duke Ferdinand II de' Medici on the walls of the Sala della Stufa in the Pitti Palace: the Golden Age and the Silver Age. After returning to Rome he completed the Barberini ceiling in 1639. One of the key works in the development of Baroque painting, it is a triumph of illusionism, for the centre of the ceiling appears open to the sky and the figures seen from below (di sotto in sù) appear to come down into the room as well as soar out of it. It demonstrates Cortona's belief, which came out in a debate with Andrea Sacchi in the Accademia di S. Luca in about 1636, that a history painting could be compared with an epic and was entitled to use many figures; Sacchi, intent on classical simplicity and unity, argued for using as few figures as possible. For most of the period from 1640 to 1647 Cortona again worked in Florence, continuing his decorations in the Pitti Palace.