Benvenuto Cellini was born on this day in 1500. One of the greatest sculptors of his generation, Cellini worked in gold, bronze, and marble. Among his finest works are the magnificent gold salt cellar made for King Francis I and the bronze statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa, which he cast in one piece. Cellini is also famous for his autobiography full of tales of professional rivalry and jealousy.

Reference: Alessandro Nova. “Cellini, Benvenuto.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.<http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T015121>.

Further reading: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (1999); Cellini and the Principles of Sculpture by Michael W. Cole (2002)

Salt Cellar, 1540-44, gold, enamel and ebony, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Bust of Cosimo I, 1546-47, bronze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Perseus, 1545-54, bronze, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence

Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Bronze Statue, 1545 -1554
Loggia dei Lanzi at Florence

Benvenuto Cellini (Italian; 3 November 1500 – 13 February 1571) was an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, draftsman, soldier and musician, who also wrote a famous autobiography. He was one of the most important artists of Mannerism.


Rosso Fiorentino died on this day in 1540 at Fontainebleau. The artist had traveled there to enter the service of Francis I, King of France, who had gathered around him a number of Italian artists including Rosso, Primaticcio, and Cellini. Rosso is recognized as one of the leading first-generation Mannerists, and he is celebrated for his originality, striking colors, and intense drama. 

The Dead Christ with Angelsca. 1524–27 (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 58.527)

Moses Defending Jethro’s Daughters, oil on canvas, 1523 (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi); Photo credit: Scala/Art Resource, NY

Deposition, oil on panel, 1521 (Volterra, Pinacoteca Comunale); Photo credit: Scala/Art Resource, NY

Château of Fontainebleau, Galerie François I by Rosso Fiorentino and Francesco Primaticcio, 1532–9; photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY