Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cellini, Benvenuto (1500-1569), a celebrated Florentine engraver, sculptor, goldsmith, author, and madman. The son of a Florentine musician and musical instrument maker, he displayed an early taste for metal-work, and his father apprenticed him to a goldsmith. At an early period of youth his zeal for battle and murder caused him twice to leave Florence and go to Rome, where, on his second visit, a vase that he made, and a medallion, Leda and the Swan, brought him to the notice of Pope Clement VII., who made much of him, and when in 1527 the Constable de Bourbon attacked Rome Cellini's love of fighting brought him into great prominence. Among other feats he, according to his own account, killed the Constable and wounded the Prince of Orange. Shortly afterwards he became reconciled to the authorities of his native place and returned to Florence, where he engraved medals, among them being Hercules and the Nemean Lion, and Atlas Supporting the World. After a visit to Mantua he returned to Florence and again went to Rome, whence, after killing one man and wounding another, he had to flee to Naples. But on the accession of Paul III. he was back in Rome restored to full favour. He had, in the meantime, amused himself by killing another man, and soon, from causes that are not quite clear, he had to leave Rome, to be restored once more, and to be imprisoned, after a visit to the court of Francis I., upon a charge of stealing jewels from the Pope's crown. He escaped, was recaptured, and was in danger of death, but powerful intercession saved him, and he went again to France and worked for a time for Francis I. Court intrigues led to his retirement from the French court and his return to Florence, where he devoted himself to art under the patronage of Cosmo de Medici. It was during this period that he produced his famous bronze of Perseus with the Head of Medusa, a work whose production cost him vast pains, and brought him a corresponding amount of fame and honour. It was in 1558 that he began to compose his memoirs, a book of great value, both as presenting a vivid picture of Italy of the Renaissance, and as being a wonderful piece of self-dissection. His frankness, and his entire absence of shame or reticence, remind the reader of Jean Jacques Rousseau and his Confessions, and make his book a delightful study to the student of human nature. The English translation by Roscoe is well worth reading. He wrote also treatises on various points of his art; and produced many other notable works of art, some of which have perished.