The Fountains of the Marine Monsters: Florentine mannerism
The Fountain of the Marine Monsters, in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata in Florence, are two masterpieces of Pietro Tacca’s (1577-1640) late mannerist style. Tacca was asked to design them to decorate the Livorno harbor, near the Monument of the Four Moors he had created between 16th and 17th century.
However, in 1641 his two Fountains were placed where they still are today, in the magnificent square that Filippo Brunelleschi had imagined two centuries earlier, in front of his Spedale degli Innocenti.
The Fountains of the Marine Monsters flank the large equestrian statue of Ferdinand I, by Giambologna and Tacca.
The monsters lean on each other’s backs, “kneeling with their knees bent and their legs wrapped around,” as an 18th-century record explains; they are an example of the typical late-mannerist taste for teratology, as well as of the time’s fascination with mythological themes, with tritons, fish, seashells, dragons, birds and, of course, marine monsters.