Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


SELVI, Antonio: Italy, ca.1725, Bronze (cast), 88 mm
Bust of Bianca Cappello (r) BIANCHA. CAPPELLI. FRANCISCI. I. M. D. VXOR.
Swan with outstretched wings standing on a landscape CANTV. ET. CANDORE. ET. VATICINIO. SACER. Unsigned
Ref: Vannel and Toderi 215/300; Rizzini 1424;  Weiss BW806

Bianca Cappello (1548-1587), an Italian noblewoman born in Venice, was the daughter of Bartolomeo Cappello and Pellegrina Morosini, and thus a member of one of the richest and noblest Venetian families. A noted beauty, Bianca at age 15, married Pietro Bonaventuri, a young Florentine clerk. While still married she was seduced by Francesco I de' Medici, later to become Grand Duke of Tuscany, who at the time was married to Joanna of Austria. In 1572 Bonaventure was murdered and in 1578 Joanna died. Francesco was now free to marry his mistress Bianca. In 1579, the marriage was publicly announced and Bianca was crowned the Grand Duchess of Tuscany at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Initially opposed to the marriage, the Venetian government put aside its displeasure and was officially represented at the magnificent wedding festivities, for it anticipated that the union and expected offspring would cement good relations with Tuscany. No heir was forthcoming, however.

In 1587, both she and her husband Francesco died on the same day, possibly poisoned, or as some historians believe, from malarial fever. Scientific evidence for both possibilities exist  [for a discussion of this issue see article in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal)].


LINK to Biography of Bianca Cappello (from florenceinferno)

LINK to Portrait of Bianca Cappello by Alessandro Allori (from Wikipedia)