Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) was a celebrated goldsmith and distinguished sculptor whose powerful talent can still be seen in such works as his bronze statue of Perseus and his gold salt cellar made for Francis 1. He worked for a variety of patrons, including Popes Clement VII and Paul III.
Benvenuto Cellini is an artist-craftsman, one of the greatest sculptors in the renaissance, passionately devoted to art, the worshipper and frequenter of the great men of his time, the 'divine' Michelangelo, who came to his studio, the 'marvellous' Titian (the adjectives are Cellini's ). He loathed the sculptor Torregiano because he had broken Michelangelo's nose.His autobiography gives a quite extraordinarily vivid account of daily life in Renaissance Florence and Rome, its studios, its taverns, its violence, his loves, the kings, cardinals and popes who commission his works. At 27 he helps direct the defence of the castello San Angelo; his account of his imprisonment there under a mad castellan (who thought he was a bat), his escape by an improvised rope, his recapture, his confinement in 'a cell of tarantulas and venomous worms' is a chapter of adventure equal to any in fact or fiction. Later he describes burning all his furniture to achieve sufficient heat to cast of one of his most famous works, Perseus and the Head of Medusa. Cellini's Life was translated by Goethe into German. The Everyman translation by Anne Macdonell (1903) is widely recognised as the most faithful to the energy and spirit of the original.
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