Benvenuto Cellini (15001571). Autobiography. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
I HAD to deal in like manner with another fellow, but I did not ruin his house; I only threw all his furniture out of doors. This time Madame dEtampes had the insolence to tell the King: I believe that devil will sack Paris one of these days. The King answered with some anger that I was only quite right to defend myself from the low rabble who put obstacles in the way of my serving him.
The rage of this vindictive woman kept continually on the increase. She sent for a painter who was established at Fontainebleau, where the King resided nearly all his time. The painter was an Italian and a Bolognese, known then as Il Bologna; his right name, however, was Francesco Primaticcio.1 Madame dEtampes advised him to beg that commission for the fountain which his Majesty had given me, adding that she would support him with all her ability; and upon this they agreed. Bologna was in an ecstasy of happiness, and thought himself sure of the affair, although such things were not in his line of art. He was, however, an excellent master of design, and had collected round him a troop of work-people formed in the school of Rosso, our Florentine painter, who was undoubtedly an artist of extraordinary merit; his own best qualities indeed were derived from the admirable manner of Rosso, who by this time had died.
These ingenious arguments, and the weighty influence of Madame dEtampes, prevailed with the King; for they kept hammering at him night and day, Madame at one time, and Bologna at another. What worked most upon his mind was that both of them combined to speak as follows: How is it possible, sacred Majesty, that Benvenuto should accomplish the twelve silver statues which you want? He has not finished one of them yet. If you employ him on so great an undertaking, you will, of necessity, deprive yourself of those other things on which your heart is set. A hundred of the ablest craftsmen could not complete so many great works as this one able man has taken in hand to do. One can see clearly that he has a passion for labour; but this ardent temper will be the cause of your Majestys losing both him and his masterpieces at the same moment. By insinuating these and other suggestions of the same sort at a favourable opportunity, the King consented to their petition; and yet Bologna had at this time produced neither designs nor models for the fountain.
Note 1. Primaticcio, together with Rosso, introduced Italian painting into France. Vasari says he came to Paris in 1541. He died in 1570. He was, like many other of the Lombard artists, an excellent master of stucco. [back]