After learning to paint from his famous father, Jean Honoré Fragonard, Alexandre Évariste joined the studio of the illustrious Neoclassical artist Jacques-Louis David. His meticulously painted canvases present charming scenes and stories from French history, depicted in a nostalgic, moralizing manner. Fragonard’s painting derives as much from Romanticism as from the Troubadour spirit. This work illustrates an episode in the life of the celebrated Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini: Cellini is invited to the French court of Francis I. Fragonard is extolling the enlightened royal patronage that is capable of recognizing the superiority of genius. Cellini is shown as an artist whose attitude to the king is not at all servile. He looks on with an air of calm authority, while the king, with an eloquent gesture, shows his mistress, the Duchess d’Étampes – who was openly hostile to the sculptor – what great art is.