Alfonso II D'Avalos (1502-1546), the marquis of Pescara and Vasto, wielded considerable power as the governor of Milan and commander of imperial forces in Italy under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles v. This portrait bust has been recently recognized as the work of Annibale Fontana, a medalist and engraver who at the end of the sixteenth century was one of the most important Milanese sculptors. The bust, executed after the subject's death, was based on a funerary mask molded by Leone Leoni (1509-1590) in 1546. Walter Cupperi proposes that Fontana executed this bust while in Sicily in 1570-71, while working for Alfonso's son, Francesco Ferdinando. It is listed in the 1571 inventory of his estate, and apparently remained with the family until the 1880s. In 1887 Eugene Plon published it as by Leone Leoni, yet Seligmann sold it to Morgan as the work of Benvenuto Cellini (an attribution that was emphatically marked "No" on the invoice by Morgan's librarian Belle da Costa Greene). It was generally considered as by Leoni until Walter Cupperi convincingly proposed an attribution to Fontana in 2007.
Bust of Alfonso II d'Avalos
base: 8 x 10 inches (203 x 254 mm); bust: 27 1/2 x 24 1/4 inches (699 x 615 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1905.
Possibly commissioned by Francesco Ferdinando d'Avalos (1530-1571; viceroy of Sicily 1568-71), Palermo; by descent in the d'Avalos family, Naples, until 1883; Jacques Seligmann (1858-1923), Paris; from whom purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1905 (as Benvenuto Cellini).