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Figure of a chained captive, MY41. © A.C. Cooper (Colour) Limited.
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Figure of a chained captive after one of Pietro Tacca's figures on the monument to Ferdinand I de' Medici in Livorno (Leghorn), Italy.

Lead

Museum number: MY41

Curatorial note

This figure is based on one of the four figures by Tacca, representing captured Barbary corsairs or Ottoman pirates (1620–24), around the base of Baccio Bandinelli's statue of Ferdinand I de' Medici and intended to celebrate various sea victories against them, in Piazza della Darsena, Livorno. These figures were regarded as Tacca's masterpieces and reduced-scale bronze adaptations were made by another sculptor employed by the Medici, Foggini, which provided the source for the many reproductions made for sculpture connoisseurs into the 18th century. Ceramic versions were made by Doccia (there is an example in the Soane collection) and other manufacturers.

This is one of a pair of lead figures after two of the Tacca captives which were displayed outside by Soane on the window-sill of his Dressing Room, overlooking the Monk's Yard. It is possible that these two may have been designed to be displayed outside as garden ornaments, being lead rather than bronze.

By his ownership and display of no less than three figures depicting chained captives after the Livorno monument Soane may have been signalling support for the emancipation of slaves, although this is not certain and these figures represent men enslaved during anti-piracy actions in the Mediterranean rather than by the transatlantic slave trade. However, he also owned a group of slave shackles which he displayed to draw attention to man's inhumanity to man and it is possible that these two groups of objects were linked in his mind.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Unknown but in Soane's collection by 1825 when it appears, with its pair, in a watercolour depicting the view out of the Dressing Room window.

Associated objects

M214, same subject
MY40, pair


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk