Nearly nothing remains of the once famous Villa del Pigneto, built just outside of Rome, by Pietro da Cortona, for the Sacchetti family. Until now, only a plan and some views have given any idea of the building's appearance, and other sources have given only approximate, but ultimately misleading, indications as to its date. Generally it has been thought that the villa's casino was built around 1630 and, thus, that this outstanding work was achieved early in Cortona's career as an architect. Yet newly discovered documents and hitherto unknown drawings show that Cortona did not begin work on the villa until the late 1630s, when he added a fountain and grotto to an already existing casino, and that he enlarged the building and gave the whole complex its impressive appearance only in the late 1640s. These projects, closely connected with the ambitions of the patrons, seem finally to have propelled Cortona (one of 17th-century Rome's most distinguished painters) into prominence as an architect.

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