Sculptures from the Boboli Gardens


The layout of the Boboli Gardens underwent significant alterations in the first half of the 17th century. Grand Duke Cosimo II (1608-1621) commissioned the architects Giulio Parigi and his son Alfonso to plan an open-air amphitheatre in the lower part of the gardens, directly to the back of the Palazzo Pitti. It was designed to satisfy the court’s growing requirements for a venue for theatrical performances, and especially for the staging of elaborate theatrical and operatic works. Building work on the new amphitheatre began under Ferdinand II (1621-1670). Horseshoe-shaped with tiered seating, it is demarcated in its upper part by a retaining wall with niches in which were placed statues personifying the virtues or celebrating the House of Medici. They included the statue of David which Lodovico Salvetti, a pupil of the Florentine sculptor Pietro Tacca, had created in 1632. Clearly influenced by Michelangelo’s colossal David installed in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence in 1504, the Old Testament figure of the shepherd boy, who vanquished the Philistine giant Goliath with his sling, is represented naked, standing nonchalantly in front of a tree trunk bearing the artist’s signature: LUDOVICUS SALVETIUS FLORENT. FACIEBAT ANNO 1632. Whether the work was specifically commissioned for the amphitheatre, or only later installed here, cannot be categorically determined. But at the latest in 1661 Giovanni Cinelli attested to its location in this spot in his description of Cosimo III’s wedding with Marguerite Louise d’Orleans. The statue of David in the gardens was re-sited several times in the 18th and 19th century. Most recently, following its restoration in 1998-99, it was installed in the Stanzonaccio.

Frontal view

Oblique view from the right

Side view from the left

Rear view

Side view from the right

Oblique view from the left

Detail: Kopf und Oberkörper im Profil

Detail: head and upper torso in three-quarter profile

© KHI in Florence | 24.09.2020 23:02:14