The Wallace Collection

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Ferdinando Tacca (1619 - 1686)
Biography
Works of Art

Ferdinando was the son of Pietro Tacca, one of the closest collaborators of Giambologna and the heir to his workshop in the Borgo Pinti on Giambologna’s death in 1608. After training and working as an assistant to his father, in 1640 on Pietro’s death Ferdinando took over the workshop and position of court sculptor and architect for the Medici Grand Dukes. After completing the works left unfinished by his father, including statues of Ferdinando I and Cosimo II for the Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo, delays in payment led him to decline other sculptural commissions from the Grand Dukes. Especially during the 1640s and early 1650s, Ferdinando also produced original bronze sculptures of small dimensions, in the tradition established by Giambologna and continued by Pietro Tacca. Most of these are two-figure groups with subjects drawn from ancient mythology (Hercules and Iole, Juno and Mercury, Apollo and Daphne) or the sixteenth-century epic poem Orlando Furioso (Roger and Angelica, Angelica and Medoro). His most famous and best-documented work is the antependium bronze relief with the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen in the church of Santo Stefano al Ponte, Florence. The Wallace Collection owns an important group of works by Ferdinando Tacca, including his only known signed works, a pair of large Angels holding candlesticks, executed in 1647-50 for the Duke of Massa, Carlo Cybo-Malaspina. From the early 1650s onwards, Tacca became increasingly focused on the commissions he received as court architect and designer of festive ephemera and theatre states. He designed, built and directed productions at the first Medici theatre, the famous Teatro della Pergola. His commitments as theatre designer and later as engineer of the Medici buildings and fortifications help to explain the relatively small number of sculptures which he seems to have produced, especially during the second part of his career.