(b. ca. 1531, Firenze, d. 1608, Firenze)

The Grotta Grande

Boboli Gardens, Florence

The Large Grotto (two smaller ones are located behind it) was completed under Buontalenti's supervision between 1583 and 1593. The four corners housed Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures of the four Slaves intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II in Rome, which had been acquired by Cosimo I from the sculptor's heirs. The originals were later moved to the Accademia in Florence and replaced by copies. Natural rock formations of stalactites as well as a ceiling fresco by Bernardino Poccetti evoke a natural setting, creating the illusion of a bucolic refuge for shepherds.