In a letter to the Duke of Ferrara in 1545, Giulio Alvarotti, the Ferrarese Ambassador to France, relates a story about an encounter between Cellini and Madame d’Étampes at Francis’s court at Fontainebleau.1 The tale contains a clever pun by Cellini on fornire, a verb denoting “to supply” or “furnish,” but here filled with sexually charged connotations. Alvarotti narrates a contentious clash between Cellini and Madame d’Étampes in which she berates him in front of the king and his attendants. The king had asked Cellini to bring his life-size silver statue of Jupiter to Fontainebleau so that he might see its beauty and grace. But while Francis was praising Cellini’s craftsmanship and the statue’s beauty, Madame d’Étampes began to mock Cellini for completing only one statue rather than the twelve that the king had commissioned. In fact, she insinuates that Francis has paid Cellini for a full four years of labor during which time he has produced just this one work of art. Alvarotti relates: “Disse Madama di Tampes, disse forte che a Sua Maestà e tutti la odirano: sono queste quelle opere che costano 10 m franchi e che si sono fornite in quattro anni?; e questo disse per pugnere Benvenuto perchè favorisce un certo chiamato il Bologna, che fa professione di pittore e di scultore” (Madame d’Étampes said, and said loudly so that His Majesty and everyone else could hear: are these those works that cost ten thousand francs and that were finished in four years?; and this she said to punish Benvenuto because she favored a certain young man called Il Bologna, who was a painter and sculptor by profession).


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  1. 3.
    General psychological diagnoses of Cellini include Paul Courbons Ètude Psychiatrique sur Benvenuto Cellini (Paris, 1906) and Francesco Querenghi’s La psyche di Benvenuto Cellini (Bergamo, 1913). More specific case studies were conducted by Luigi Roncoroni, “Benvenuto Cellini (Contributo allo studio delle parafrenie),” Minerva Medicolegale 26 (1905): 271–97Google Scholar
  2. George E. Price, “A Sixteenth Century Paranoic: His Story and His Autobiography,” New York Medical Journal 99 (1914): 727–31.Google Scholar

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© Margaret A. Gallucci 2003

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