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Monument of the Four Moors

The monument of the Four Moors is a famous sculpture in Piazza Micheli, in Livorno

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Ferdinando I, who had come to power in 1587, ordered the building of a monument in his honour. The statue of the Grand-Duke was commissioned to the sculptor Giovanni Bandini who realised the work in Carrara, starting from 1595 and then had it transported via boat to Livorno in 1601. The huge monument remained at the edge of the square overlooking the docks for 16 years until 1617 when it was raised up onto a pedestal by order of Cosimo II de' Medici, successor to Ferdinand in 1609. In 1621 Pietro Tacca was entrusted with the task of completing Bandini's work with the addition of four Moors in chains at the base of the pedestal, which the sculptor finished between 1623 and 1626. A pupil of Tacca, Taddeo di Michele, carried out a group of Barbaresque trophies which were collocated around the statue of Ferdinand. The monument was also supposed to have been completed with two fountains containing marine monsters, realised by Tacca around the 1630's but they never reached Livorno and remained in the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

During the war the statue was transferred to the Certosa di Calci to be saved from the bombing while the Four Moors went first to the Cisternino di Pian di Rota and then to the Medicean villa in Poggio a Caiano. In 1950, after extensive restoration, the works returned to Livorno. The works consist of the Four Moors in bronze chained to the base of a high pedestal on which stands the statue of Ferdinand I. The Grand-duke is portrayed in the uniform of the Order of the Cavaliers of Santo Stefano, the military institution founded by Cosimo de' Medici to combat the ottomans and the phenomena of piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. The Four Moors actually constitute the most important part of the work: the accentuated torsion of the bodies (in the style of Giambologna) and the grimaces of pain well represent the conditions of imprisonment of the subjects while showing great realism and elegance. In fact Pietro Tacca modelled his subjects on some real moors segregated in the Bagno dei Forzati, the vast prison near the Fortezza Vecchia.
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