The New Student's Reference Work/Cellini, Benvenuto

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2810402The New Student's Reference Work — Cellini, Benvenuto

Cellini (chĕl-lē′nē̇), Benvenuto, an Italian goldsmith, sculptor and engraver and the author of a very interesting account of his own life, was born at Florence in 1500. When young, he went to Rome, where his skill in metal-work gained him the favor of many nobles. He seems to have been somewhat of a freebooter, besides an expert swordsman and stabber, and had few scruples about murdering any one he chanced to quarrel with. His book mentions many of his encounters. He usually got off scot-free, but the murder of a rival goldsmith brought him to prison. He was, however, in such favor as a metal-worker as to be quickly set free again. He was summoned to the court of France and he tells us how pleased Francis I was with a golden spice-box he made for him. But it was in Florence that he produced his finest piece of sculpture, the famous bronze, Perseus with the Head of Medusa. He began to write his life in 1558, which is of the greatest interest. Cellini was a shrewd judge of men, and gives a faithful and wonderfully life-like picture of Italian society in the 16th century. He died in 1571.