CELLINI

There are some men whose names stand out so much ahead of their fellows that their works call for special individual mention, and their history appears to throw light upon the wonderful conceptions which were embodied in the decorative ornament of their works. Benevenuti Cellini was a remarkable example of a man who had sprang up as it were at the right moment. The taste for severe ecclesiastical ornament waned in the sixteenth century. The Renaissance spread and a new art was desired ; Cellini filled the gap, creating an entirely new school of design for the ornamentation of the enormous vases, dishes and ewers patrons of art then sought to procure. Cellini, the Italian artist, was born in Florence, and studied art under curious surroundings little calculated to inspire him with the new school of decoration he devised, for he was in his early days a " fast youth " and passed through many escapades. It was in Rome that his individuality of style became apparent, and there he worked under the patronage of cardinals and others, for whom he made many rare pieces and famous statuettes and altar pieces. Cellini afterwards spent several years in Paris making many of his most noted works, including large silver-gilt vases, and a golden salt cellar for Francis I, which is still preserved in Vienna. His style became popular and it is said that it not only influenced the silver-smiths with whom he came in contact but those of Nuremberg and Augsberg who were at that time among the most prominent silversmiths in Europe. On those rare occasions when genuine pieces of Cellini's work come into the market there is keen competition for their possession. Some of the works of this artist have gained such notoriety that they have been often duplicated by modern processes of production for museum display. Other pieces have gained fame by their withdrawal from the public gaze for many years. Thus when the famous Ashburnham silver was sold at Christie's in March, 1914, the Cellini dish which had been deposited in a banker's safe for thirty years or more was disposed of to a Scottish collector for 1,600 guineas. This silver-gilt rose-water dish, so typical of Cellini's art, had belonged to the fifth Earl of Ashburnham and had formed one of a set of twelve dishes, several of which were sold in Paris in 1893. This delightful piece depicted the triumphs of Titus and Vespasian, the entire set being illustrative of the triumphs of the most famous Roman Emperors ; a mighty effort worthy of the genius of Cellini !