Ferdinando II de’ Medici
Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1610-1670)
was the son of Cosimo II de’
His father’s death marked the start of a long regency that
extended beyond Ferdinando’s majority. The regency was conservative in all
aspects of governance and continued to patronize Tuscan artists who had been
supported by Cosimo II.
From 1621 to 1630 there was little artistic activity at the
court apart from theatre spectacles, for which scenery was designed by Giulio
Parigi and his son Alfonso the younger.
Successive plague epidemics (1631–1633) and economic depression in the linen and wool industries
provoked a vigorous response from the young Grand Duke: a dole and a government-supported public works program were
established, the latter including construction of the Monte Reggi aqueduct and the installation of new public
In addition the Palazzo Pitti was expanded from a 7-to a 23-bay façade, the Boboli Gardens were
reorganized and an amphitheater built.
Palazzo Pitti - the Boboli Gardens and the amphitheater
Most of this program (largely completed in the 1640s) was stylistically conservative. The
enlargement of the palazzo, under the Parigi family, repeated the original Quattrocento façade design; the
amphitheater has frequently been mistaken for a Cinquecento construction. The Moses Grotto in the Palazzo Pitti
courtyard received sculpture by Antonio Novelli, Giovanni Battista Pieratti, Domenico Pieratti, Raffaello Curradi
and Cosimo Salvestrini. Above the grotto the Artichoke Fountain, in the traditional candelabrum form, by Francesco
Susini was installed. Two monumental sculptures originally commissioned from Giambologna were adapted (the Dovizia,
which was recut by Pietro Tacca) and repositioned (the Ocean Fountain) in the garden in 1637.
New fountains in the city included two sea monster fountains
originally planned for Livorno by Tacca but installed in the Piazza SS
Annunziata; Tacca’s Porcellino, modeled from an antique sculpture and installed
in the Mercato Nuovo; and an antique sculpture group of Menelaus and Patroclus
used to mark a fountain head at the Ponte Vecchio. Tacca also made two
monumental statues of Grand Dukes Cosimo II and Ferdinando I for the Cappella
dei Principi, begun in 1626 but not completed until 1644, under Pietro’s son,
In painting a conservative patronage pattern obtained until
the late 1630s. At the Palazzo Pitti, Matteo Rosselli worked with Giovanni da
San Giovanni, who was commissioned to fresco the public rooms of the summer
apartments in his highly informal style.
However, on Giovanni’s death (1636), the room he had partially completed was programmatically
revised and turned over to younger Florentine artists: Francesco Furini, Cecco Bravo and Ottavio Vannini.
Thereafter Florentine artists were employed in secondary areas of the palace, and the completion of the summer
apartment decorations was assigned to the internationally fashionable Bolognese quadrature specialists Angelo
Michele Colonna and Agostino Stanzani Mitelli.
The decoration of the public rooms on the piano nobile was given to the Rome-based Tuscan artist
Pietro da Cortona and subsequently completed by his pupil Ciro Ferri. The work of these artists brought the Roman
High Baroque to Florence and had a profound influence on Florentine art, notably that of Stefano della Bella and
Baldassare Franceschini, both patronized by Ferdinando II; but several artists were unaffected by the intrusion of
the Roman Baroque, notably the Grand Duke’s portrait painter, Giusto Suttermans, whose style was Rubensian, and
Carlo Dolci, who continued to produce portraits and religious paintings in his painstakingly brilliant manner.
During Ferdinando’s reign the efforts of Florentine architects and sculptors were heavily
invested in the Cappella dei Principi at San Lorenzo, a project initiated in 1604. The public works projects of
1630–1640 and the War of Castro (1641–1644) exhausted the grand-ducal treasury and curtailed other large-scale
Cappella dei Principi interior