This article examines the frameworks of artistic competition embodied in a 1534 contract for a contest of medalmaking between Benvenuto Cellini and Giovanni Bernardi, and in descriptions of other competitions, especially in Cellini's autobiography. Strategies, decorum, and rhetoric of such competitions were embedded in notions of honor. In addition to personal and professional honor, court status and patronage were also at stake. By means of his competition with Bernardi and his medal of Pope Clement VII, Cellini hoped to recoup lost standing and favor, along with concomitant commissions and emoluments at the papal court —specifically, it is argued, an appointment at the Roman mint, where Cellini had been replaced by Bernardi in 1534. Cellini, however, was never rehabilitated at Clement's court, and within days of the death of his patron, he murdered Pompeo de' Capitaneis, the rival goldsmith whom he blamed for his loss of honor and profit.


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pp. 512-575
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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