The Embezzling, Murdering, Genius Goldsmith of the 16th Century.
Oh…the things our nefarious evil-doer did. He was born on
November 3, 1500. His father wanted him to be a musician. But he
wasn’t having any. So he apprenticed himself to a Florentine
goldsmith in 1516… promptly got into a fight…and was kicked
out. Did that deter our hero? Nay nay, my friends. He had a
temper that needed cultivation.
So in 1523 he got into another fight. And he was prosecuted. And
he was condemned to death. But before anyone could do anything,
he fled to Rome, where he began working for the church and
creating gold artifacts. While participating in the defense of
Rome, our hero admits to having shot the constable of Bourbon and
the prince of Orange. Cross my path… watch your ass, was his
Time passed and our hero changed residences often…going from
Rome back to Florence and back to Rome again. He made a seal for
Ercole Cardinal Gonzaga. He created a clasp for Clement VII. He
was appointed to the Papal Mint. Unfortunately, much of our
hero’s work was melted down and lost forever. Most, my
friends…but not all.
Time passed…and he got angry at a rival goldsmith. So he
killed him. So far he’s no different than you or I…no? However,
Pope Paul III absolved him of any wrongdoing. Listen…if you’re
a brilliant goldsmith …anything goes. The following year our
hero wounded a notary, fled again to Florence…where he created
a few coins for Alessandro de’ Medici.
In 1537, our hero returned to Rome where he was imprisoned for
embezzlement. Believe it or not, he was released in order to
create a seal for Ippolito Cardinal d’Este of Ferrara. I want to
tell you all something. This guy was good with his hands. He was
a genius. Look at what he got away with.
I’m not going to drag this on forever folks. He did a lot of bad
stuff. And drawings of his works are presently on display at the
Louvre. Aside from embezzlement and murder, our goldsmith was
also charged with immorality in 1546. And on and on it went. But
he was a consummate craftsman…and a brilliant sculptor…with
taste and skill that allowed him to rise to a level of
recognition achieved by very few.
One of his most famous works is a gold salt-cellar made for
Francis I in 1543. It is the only piece around today that is
known to be, without a doubt, a creation that came from his hand.
Our hero’s name… Benvenuto Cellini. And as for the
salt-cellar…you can see a picture of it if you want. Go to my
home page, scroll down to the Tidbits Graphic link on the Table
Menu. And thar she’ll be.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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