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The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini

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happened to leave the wardrobe, and at the same moment Bandinello
entered. When the Duke saw him, his countenance contracted, and he asked
him drily: “What are you about here?” Bandinello, without answering,
cast a glance upon the box, where the statue lay uncovered. Then
breaking into one of his malignant laughs and wagging his head, he
turned to the Duke and said: “My lord, this exactly illustrates the
truth of what I have so often told your Excellency. You must know that
the ancients were wholly ignorant of anatomy, and therefore their works
abound in mistakes.” I kept silence, and paid no heed to what he was
saying; nay, indeed, I had turned my back on him. But when the brute had
brought his disagreeable babble to an end, the Duke exclaimed: “O
Benvenuto, this is the exact opposite of what you were just now
demonstrating with so many excellent arguments. Come and speak a word in
defence of the statue.” In reply to this appeal, so kindly made me by
the Duke, I spoke as follows: “My lord, your most illustrious Excellency
must please to know that Baccio Bandinello is made up of everything bad,
and thus has he ever been; therefore, whatever he looks at, be the thing
superlatively excellent, becomes in his ungracious eyes as bad as can
be. I, who incline to the good only, discern the truth with purer sense.
Consequently, what I told your Excellency about this lovely statue is
mere simple truth; whereas what Bandinello said is but a portion of the
evil out of which he is composed.” The Duke listened with much
amusement; but Bandinello writhed and made the most ugly faces--his face
itself being by nature hideous beyond measure--which could be imagined
by the mind of man.

The Duke at this point moved away, and proceeded through some ground
floor rooms, while Bandinello followed. The chamberlains twitched me by
the mantle, and sent me after; so we all attended the Duke until he
reached a certain chamber, where he seated himself, with Bandinello and
me standing at his right hand and his left. I kept silence, and the
gentlemen of his Excellency’s suite looked hard at Bandinello, tittering
among themselves about the speech I had made in the room above. So then
Bandinello began again to chatter, and cried out: “Prince, when I
uncovered my Hercules and Cacus, I verily believe a hundred sonnets were
written on me, full of the worst abuse which could be invented by the
ignorant rabble.” [1] I rejoined: “Prince, when Michel Agnolo Buonarroti
displayed his Sacristy to view, with so many fine statues in it, the men
of talent in our admirable school of Florence, always appreciative of
truth and goodness, published more than a hundred sonnets, each vying
with his neighbour to extol these masterpieces to the skies. [2] So
then, just as Bandinello’s work deserved all the evil which, he tells
us, was then said about it, Buonarroti’s deserved the enthusiastic
praise which was bestowed upon it.” These words of mine made Bandinello
burst with fury; he turned on me, and cried: “And you, what have you got
to say against my work?” “I will tell you if you have the patience to
hear me out.” “Go along then,” he replied. The Duke and his attendants
prepared themselves to listen. I began and opened by oration thus: “You
must know that it pains me to point out the faults of your statue; I
shall not, however, utter my own sentiments, but shall recapitulate what
our most virtuous school of Florence says about it.” The brutal fellow
kept making disagreeable remarks and gesticulating with his hands and
feet, until he enraged me so that I began again, and spoke far more
rudely than I should otherwise have done, if he had behaved with
decency. “Well, then, this virtuous school says that if one were to
shave the hair of your Hercules, there would not be skull enough left to
hold his brain; it says that it is impossible to distinguish whether his
features are those of a man or of something between a lion and an ox;
the face too is turned away from the action of the figure, and is so
badly set upon the neck, with such poverty of art and so ill a grace,
that nothing worse was ever seen; his sprawling shoulders are like the
two pommels of an ass’ pack-saddle; his breasts and all the muscles of
the body are not portrayed from a man, but from a big sack full of
melons set upright against a wall. The loins seem to be modelled from a
bag of lanky pumpkins; nobody can tell how his two legs are attached to
that vile trunk; it is impossible to say on which leg he stands, or
which he uses to exert his strength; nor does he seem to be resting upon
both, as sculptors who know something of their art have occasionally set
the figure. It is obvious that the body is leaning forward more than
one-third of a cubit, which alone is the greatest and most insupportable
fault committed by vulgar commonplace pretenders. Concerning the arms,
they say that these are both stretched out without one touch of grace or
one real spark of artistic talents, just as if you had never seen a
naked model. Again, the right leg of Hercules and that of Cacus have got
one mass of flesh between them, so that if they were to be separated,
not only one of them, but both together, would be left without a calf at
the point where they are touching. They say, too, that Hercules has one
of his feet underground, while the other seems to be resting on hot

Note 1. Vasari confirms this statement. The statue, which may still be
seen upon the great piazza, is, in truth, a very poor performance. The
Florentines were angry because Bandinello had filched the commission
away from Michel Angelo. It was uncovered in 1534, and Duke Alessandro
had to imprison its lampooners.

Note 2. Cellini alludes of course to the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo,
designed by Michel Angelo, with the portraits of the Medici and statues
of Day, Night, Dawn, and Twilight.


THE FELLOW could not stand quiet to hear the damning errors of his Cacus
in their turn enumerated. For one thing, I was telling the truth; for
another, I was unmasking him to the Duke and all the people present, who
showed by face and gesture first their surprise, and next their
conviction that what I said was true. All at once he burst out: “Ah, you
slanderous tongue! why don’t you speak about my design?” I retorted: “A
good draughtsman can never produce bad works; therefore I am inclined to
believe that your drawing is no better than your statues.” When he saw
the amused expression on the Duke’s face and the cutting gestures of the
bystanders, he let his insolence get the better of him, and turned to me
with that most hideous face of his, screaming aloud: “Oh, hold your
tongue, you ugly…” [1] At these words the Duke frowned, and the
others pursed their lips up and looked with knitted grows toward him.
The horrible affront half maddened me with fury; but in a moment I
recovered presence of mind enough to turn it off with a jest; “You
madman! you exceed the bounds of decency. Yet would to God that I
understood so noble an art as you allude to; they say that Jove used it
with Ganymede in paradise, and here upon this earth it is practised by
some of the greatest emperors and kings. I, however, am but a poor
humble creature, who neither have the power nor the intelligence to
perplex my wits with anything so admirable.” When I had finished this
speech, the Duke and his attendants could control themselves no longer,
but broke into such shouts of laughter that one never heard the like.
You must know, gentle readers, that though I put on this appearance of
pleasantry, my heart was bursting in my body to think that a fellow, the
foulest villain who ever breathed, should have dared in the presence of
so great a prince to cast an insult of that atrocious nature in my
teeth; but you must also know that he insulted the Duke, and not me; for
had I not stood in that august presence, I should have felled him dead
to earth. When the dirty stupid scoundrel observed that those gentlemen
kept on laughing, he tried to change the subject, and divert them from
deriding him; so he began as follows: “This fellow Benvenuto goes about
boasting that I have promised him a piece of marble.” I took him up at
once. “What! did you not send to tell me by your journeyman, Francesco,
that if I wished to work in marble you would give me a block? I accepted
it, and mean to have it.” He retorted: “Be very well assured that you
will never get it.” Still smarting as I was under the calumnious insults
he had flung at me, I lost my self-control, forgot I was in the presence
of the Duke, and called out in a storm of fury: “I swear to you that if
you do not send the marble to my house, you had better look out for
another world, for if you stay upon this earth I will most certainly rip
the wind out of your carcass. [2] Then suddenly awaking to the fact that
I was standing in the presence of so great a duke, I turned submissively
to his Excellency and said: “My lord, one fool makes a hundred; the
follies of this man have blinded me for a moment to the glory of your
most illustrious Excellency and to myself. I humbly crave your pardon.”
Then the Duke said to Bandinello: “Is it true that you promised him the
marble?” He replied that it was true. Upon this the Duke addressed me:
“Go to the Opera, and choose a piece according to your taste.” I
demurred that the man had promised to sent it home to me. The words that
passed between us were awful, and I refused to take the stone in any
other way. Next morning a piece of marble was brought to my house. On
asking who had sent it, they told me it was Bandinello, and that this
was the very block which he had promised. 3

Note 1. 'Oh sta cheto, soddomitaccio.'

Note 2. 'In questo' ('mondo') 'ti sgonfieró a ogni modo.'

Note 3. Vasari, in his 'Life of Bandinello,' gives a curious
confirmation of Cellini’s veracity by reporting this quarrel, with some
of the speeches which pdssed between the two rival artists. Yet he had
not read Cellini’s 'Memoirs,' and was far from partial to the man.
Comparing Vasari’s with Cellini’s account, we only notice that the
latter has made Bandinello play a less witty part in the wordy strife
than the former assigned him.


I HAD it brought at once in to my studio, and began to chisel it. While
I was rough-hewing the block, I made a model. But my eagerness to work
in marble was so strong, that I had not patience to finish the model as
correctly as this art demands. I soon noticed that the stone rang false
beneath my strokes, which made me often-times repent commencing on it.
Yet I got what I could out of the piece--that is, the Apollo and
Hyacinth, which may still be seen unfinished in my workshop. While I was
thus engaged, the Duke came to my house, and often said to me: “Leave
your bronze awhile, and let me watch you working on the marble.” Then I
took chisel and mallet, and went at it blithely. He asked about the
model I had made for my statue; to which I answered: “Duke, this marble
is all cracked, but I shall carve something from it in spite of that;
therefore I have not been able to settle the model, but shall go on
doing the best I can.”

His Excellency sent to Rome post-haste for a block of Greek marble, in
order that I might restore his antique Ganymede, which was the cause of
that dispute with Bandinello. When it arrived, I thought it a sin to cut
it up for the head and arms and other bits wanting in the Ganymede; so I
provided myself with another piece of stone, and reserved the Greek
marble for a Narcissus which I modelled on a small scale in wax. I found
that the block had two holes, penetrating to the depth of a quarter of a
cubit, and two good inches wide. This led me to choose the attitude
which may be noticed in my statue, avoiding the holes and keeping my
figure free from them. But rain had fallen scores of years upon the
stone, filtering so deeply from the holes into its substance that the
marble was decayed. Of this I had full proof at the time of a great
inundation of the Arno, when the river rose to the height of more than a
cubit and a half in my workshop. [1] Now the Narcissus stood upon a
square of wood, and the water overturned it, causing the statue to break
in two above the breasts. I had to join the pieces; and in order that
the line of breakage might not be observed, I wreathed that garland of
flowers round it which may still be seen upon the bosom. I went on
working at the surface, employing some hours before sunrise, or now and
then on feast-days, so as not to lose the time I needed for my Perseus.

It so happened on one of those mornings, while I was getting some little
chisels into trim to work on the Narcissus, that a very fine splinter of
steel flew into my right eye, and embedded itself so deeply in the pupil
that it could not be extracted. I thought for certain I must lose the
sight of that eye. After some days I sent for Maestro Raffaello dé
Pilli, the surgeon, who obtained a couple of live pigeons, and placing
me upon my back across a table, took the birds and opened a large vein
they have beneath the wing, so that the blood gushed out into my eye. I
felt immediately relieved, and in the space of two days the splinter
came away, and I remained with eyesight greatly improved. Against the
feast of S. Lucia, [2] which came round in three days, I made a golden
eye out of a French crown, and had it presented at her shrine by one of
my six nieces, daughters of my sister Liperata; the girl was ten years
of age, and in her company I returned thanks to God and S. Lucia. For
some while afterwards I did not work at the Narcissus, but pushed my
Perseus forward under all the difficulties I have described. It was my
purpose to finish it, and then to bid farewell to Florence.

Note 1. Cellini alludes to a celebrated inundation of the year 1547.

Note 2. S. Lucy, I need hardly remark, is the patroness of the eyes. In
Italian art she is generally represented holding her own eyes upon a


HAVING succeeded so well with the cast of the Medusa, I had great hope
of bringing my Perseus through; for I had laid the wax on, and felt
confident that it would come out in bronze as perfectly as the Medusa.
The waxen model produced so fine an effect, that when the Duke saw it
and was struck with its beauty--whether somebody had persuaded him it
could not be carried out with the same finish in metal, or whether he
thought so for himself--he came to visit me more frequently than usual,
and on one occasion said: “Benvenuto, this figure cannot succeed in
bronze; the laws of art do not admit of it.” These words of his
Excellency stung me so sharply that I answered: “My lord, I know how
very little confidence you have in me; and I believe the reason of this
is that your most illustrious Excellency lends too ready an ear to my
calumniators, or else indeed that you do not understand my art.” He
hardly let me close the sentence when he broke in: “I profess myself a
connoisseur, and understand it very well indeed.” I replied: “Yes, like
a prince, not like an artist; for if your Excellency understood my trade
as well as you imagine, you would trust me on the proofs I have already
given. These are, first, the colossal bronze bust of your Excellency,
which is now in Elba; [1] secondly, the restoration of the Ganymede in
marble, which offered so many difficulties and cost me so much trouble,
that I would rather have made the whole statue new from the beginning;
thirdly, the Medusa, cast by me in bronze, here now before your
Excellency’s eyes, the execution of which was a greater triumph of
strength and skill than any of my predecessors in this fiendish art have
yet achieved. Look you, my lord! I constructed that furnace anew on
principles quite different from those of other founders; in addition to
many technical improvements and ingenious devices, I supplied it with
two issues for the metal, because this difficult and twisted figure
could not otherwise have come out perfect. It is only owing to my
intelligent insight into means and appliances that the statue turned out
as it did; a triumph judged impossible by all the practitioners of this
art. I should like you furthermore to be aware, my lord, for certain,
that the sole reason why I succeeded with all those great arduous works
in France under his most admirable Majesty King Francis, was the high
courage which that good monarch put into my heart by the liberal
allowances he made me, and the multitude of workpeople he left at my
disposal. I could have as many as I asked for, and employed at times
above forty, all chosen by myself. These were the causes of my having
there produced so many masterpieces in so short a space of time. Now
then, my lord, put trust in me; supply me with the aid I need. I am
confident of being able to complete a work which will delight your soul.
But if your Excellency goes on disheartening me, and does not advance me
the assistance which is absolutely required, neither I nor any man alive
upon this earth can hope to achieve the slightest thing of value.”

Note 1. At Portoferraio. It came afterwards to Florence.


IT was as much as the Duke could do to stand by and listen to my
pleadings. He kept turning first this way and then that; while I, in
despair, poor wretched I, was calling up remembrance of the noble state
I held in France, to the great sorrow of my soul. All at once he cried:
“Come, tell me, Benvenuto, how is it possible that yonder splendid head
of Medusa, so high up there in the grasp of Perseus, should ever come
out perfect?” I replied upon the instant: “Look you now, my lord! If
your Excellency possessed that knowledge of the craft which you affirm
you have, you would not fear one moment for the splendid head you speak
of. There is good reason, on the other hand, to feel uneasy about this
right foot, so far below and at a distance from the rest.” When he heard
these words, the Duke turned, half in anger, to some gentlemen in
waiting, and exclaimed: “I verily believe that this Benvenuto prides
himself on contradicting everything one says.” Then he faced round to me
with a touch of mockery, upon which his attendants did the like, and
began to speak as follows: “I will listen patiently to any argument you
can possibly produce in explanation of your statement, which may
convince me of its probability.” I said in answer: “I will adduce so
sound an argument that your Excellency shall perceive the full force of
it.” So I began: “You must know, my lord, that the nature of fire is to
ascend, and therefore I promise you that Medusa’s head will come out
famously; but since it is not in the nature of fire to descend, and I
must force it downwards six cubits by artificial means, I assure your
Excellency upon this most convincing ground of proof that the foot
cannot possibly come out. It will, however, be quite easy for me to
restore it.” “Why, then,” said the Duke, “did you not devise it so that
the foot should come out as well as you affirm the head will?” I
answered: “I must have made a much larger furnace, with a conduit as
thick as my leg; and so I might have forced the molten metal by its own
weight to descend so far. Now, my pipe, which runs six cubits to the
statue’s foot, as I have said, is not thicker than two fingers. However,
it was not worth the trouble and expense to make a larger; for I shall
easily be able to mend what is lacking. But when my mould is more than
half full, as I expect, from this middle point upwards, the fire
ascending by its natural property, then the heads of Perseus and Medusa
will come out admirably; you may be quite sure of it.” After I had thus
expounded these convincing arguments, together with many more of the
same kind, which it would be tedious to set down here, the Duke shook
his head and departed without further ceremony.


ABANDONED thus to my own resources, I took new courage, and banished the
sad thoughts which kept recurring to my mind, making me often weep
bitter tears of repentance for having left France; for though I did so
only to revisit Florence, my sweet birthplace, in order that I might
charitably succour my six nieces, this good action, as I well perceived,
had been the beginning of my great misfortune. Nevertheless, I felt
convinced that when my Perseus was accomplished, all these trials would
be turned to high felicity and glorious well-being.

Accordingly I strengthened my heart, and with all the forces of my body
and my purse, employing what little money still remained to me, I set to
work. First I provided myself with several loads of pinewood from the
forests of Serristori, in the neighbourhood of Montelupo. While these
were on their way, I clothed my Perseus with the clay which I had
prepared many months beforehand, in order that it might be duly
seasoned. After making its clay tunic (for that is the term used in this
art) and properly arming it and fencing it with iron girders, I began to
draw the wax out by means of a slow fire. This melted and issued through
numerous air-vents I had made; for the more there are of these, the
better will the mould fill. When I had finished drawing off the wax, I
constructed a funnel-shaped furnace all round the model of my Perseus.
[1] It was built of bricks, so interlaced, the one above the other, that
numerous apertures were left for the fire to exhale at. Then I began to
lay on wood by degrees, and kept it burning two whole days and nights.
At length, when all the wax was gone, and the mould was well baked, I
set to work at digging the pit in which to sink it. This I performed
with scrupulous regard to all the rules of art. When I had finished that
part of my work, I raised the mould by windlasses and stout ropes to a
perpendicular position, and suspending it with the greatest care one
cubit above the level of the furnace, so that it hung exactly above the
middle of the pit, I next lowered it gently down into the very bottom of
the furnace, and had it firmly placed with every possible precaution for
its safety. When this delicate operation was accomplished, I began to
bank it up with the earth I had excavated; and, ever as the earth grew
higher, I introduced its proper air-vents, which were little tubes of
earthenware, such as folk use for drains and such-like purposes. [2] At
length, I felt sure that it was admirably fixed, and that the filling-in
of the pit and the placing of the air-vents had been properly performed.
I also could see that my work people understood my method, which
differed very considerably from that of all the other masters in the
trade. Feeling confident, then, that I could rely upon them, I next
turned to my furnace, which I had filled with numerous pigs of copper
and other bronze stuff. The pieces were piled according to the laws of
art, that is to say, so resting one upon the other that the flames could
play freely through them, in order that the metal might heat and liquefy
the sooner. At last I called out heartily to set the furnace going. The
logs of pine were heaped in, and, what with the unctuous resin of the
wood and the good draught I had given, my furnace worked so well that I
was obliged to rush from side to side to keep it going. The labour was
more than I could stand; yet I forced myself to strain every nerve and
muscle. To increase my anxieties, the workshop took fire, and we were
afraid lest the roof should fall upon our heads; while, from the garden,
such a storm of wind and rain kept blowing in, that it perceptibly
cooled the furnace.

Battling thus with all these untoward circumstances for several hours,
and exerting myself beyond even the measure of my powerful constitution,
I could at last bear up no longer, and a sudden fever, [3] of the utmost
possible intensity, attacked me. I felt absolutely obliged to go and
fling myself upon my bed. Sorely against my will having to drag myself
away from the spot, I turned to my assistants, about ten or more in all,
what with master-founders, hand-workers, country-fellows, and my own
special journeymen, among whom was Bernardino Mannellini of Mugello, my
apprentice through several years. To him in particular I spoke: “Look,
my dear Bernardino, that you observe the rules which I have taught you;
do your best with all despatch, for the metal will soon be fused. You
cannot go wrong; these honest men will get the channels ready; you will
easily be able to drive back the two plugs with this pair of iron
crooks; and I am sure that my mould will fill miraculously. I feel more
ill than I ever did in all my life, and verily believe that it will kill
me before a few hours are over. [4] Thus, with despair at heart, I left
them, and betook myself to bed.

Note 1. This furnace, called 'manica,' was like a grain-hopper, so that
the mould could stand upright in it as in a cup. The word 'manica' is
the same as our 'manuch,' an antique form of sleeve.

Note 2. These air-vents, or 'sfiatatoi,' were introduced into the outer
mould, which Cellini calls the 'tonaca,' or clay tunic laid upon the
original model of baked clay and wax. They served the double purpose of
drawing off the wax, whereby a space was left for the molten bronze to
enter, and also of facilitating the penetration of this molten metal by
allowing a free escape of air and gas from the outer mould.

Note 3. 'Una febbre efimera.' Lit., 'a fever of one day’s duration.'

Note 4. Some technical terms require explanation in this sentence. The
'canali' or channels were sluices for carrying the molten metal from the
furnace into the mould. The 'mandriani,' which I have translated by
'iron crooks,' were poles fitted at the end with curved irons, by which
the openings of the furnace, 'plugs,' or in Italian 'spine,' could be
partially or wholly driven back, so as to the molten metal flow through
the channels into the mould. When the metal reached the mould, it
entered in a red-hot stream between the 'tonaca,' or outside mould, and
the 'anima,' or inner block, filling up exactly the space which had
previously been occupied by the wax extracted by a method of slow
burning alluded to above. I believe that the process is known as
'casting á cire perdue.' The 'forma,' or mould, consisted of two pieces;
one hollow ('la tonaca'), which gave shape to the bronze; one solid and
rounded ('la anima'), which stood at a short interval within the former,
and regulated the influx of the metal. See above, p. 354, note.


NO sooner had I got to bed, than I ordered my serving-maids to carry
food and wine for all the men into the workshop; at the same time I
cried: “I shall not be alive tomorrow.” They tried to encourage me,
arguing that my illness would pass over, since it came from excessive
fatigue. In this way I spent two hours battling with the fever, which
steadily increased, and calling out continually: “I feel that I am
dying.” My housekeeper, who was named Mona Fiore da Castel del Rio, a
very notable manager and no less warm-hearted, kept chiding me for my
discouragement; but, on the other hand, she paid me every kind attention
which was possible. However, the sight of my physical pain and moral
dejection so affected her, that, in spite of that brave heart of hers,
she could not refrain from shedding tears; and yet, so far as she was
able, she took good care I should not see them. While I was thus
terribly afflicted, I beheld the figure of a man enter my chamber,
twisted in his body into the form of a capital S. He raised a
lamentable, doleful voice, like one who announces their last hour to men
condemned to die upon the scaffold, and spoke these words: “O Benvenuto!
your statue is spoiled, and there is no hope whatever of saving it.” No
sooner had I heard the shriek of that wretch than I gave a howl which
might have been heard from the sphere of flame. Jumping from my bed, I
seized my clothes and began to dress. The maids, and my lads, and every
one who came around to help me, got kicks or blows of the fist, while I
kept crying out in lamentation: “Ah! traitors! enviers! This is an act
of treason, done by malice prepense! But I swear by God that I will sift
it to the bottom, and before I die will leave such witness to the world
of what I can do as shall make a score of mortals marvel.”

When I had got my clothes on, I strode with soul bent on mischief toward
the workshop; there I beheld the men, whom I had left erewhile in such
high spirits, standing stupefied and downcast. I began at once and
spoke: “Up with you! Attend to me! Since you have not been able or
willing to obey the directions I gave you, obey me now that I am with
you to conduct my work in person. Let no one contradict me, for in cases
like this we need the aid of hand and hearing, not of advice.” When I
had uttered these words, a certain Maestro Alessandro Lastricati broke
silence and said: “Look you, Benvenuto, you are going to attempt an
enterprise which the laws of art do not sanction, and which cannot
succeed.” I turned upon him with such fury and so full of mischief, that
he and all the rest of them exclaimed with one voice: “On then! Give
orders! We will obey your least commands, so long as life is left in
us.” I believe they spoke thus feelingly because they thought I must
fall shortly dead upon the ground. I went immediately to inspect the
furnace, and found that the metal was all curdled; an accident which we
express by “being caked.” [1] I told two of the hands to cross the road,
and fetch from the house of the butcher Capretta a load of young
oak-wood, which had lain dry for above a year; this wood had been
previously offered me by Madame Ginevra, wife of the said Capretta. So
soon as the first armfuls arrived, I began to fill the grate beneath the
furnace. [2] Now oak-wood of that kind heats more powerfully than any
other sort of tree; and for this reason, where a slow fire is wanted, as
in the case of gun-foundry, alder or pine is preferred. Accordingly,
when the logs took fire, oh! how the cake began to stir beneath that
awful heat, to glow and sparkle in a blaze! At the same time I kept
stirring up the channels, and sent men upon the roof to stop the
conflagration, which had gathered force from the increased combustion in
the furnace; also I caused boards, carpets, and other hangings to be set
up against the garden, in order to protect us from the violence of the

Note 1. 'Essersi fatto un migliaccio.'

Note 2. The Italian is 'bracciaiuola,' a pit below the grating, which
receives the ashes from the furnace.


WHEN I had thus provided against these several disasters, I roared out
first to one man and then to another: “Bring this thing here! Take that
thing there!” At this crisis, when the whole gang saw the cake was on
the point of melting, they did my bidding, each fellow working with the
strength of three. I then ordered half a pig of pewter to be brought,
which weighed about sixty pounds, and flung it into the middle of the
cake inside the furnace. By this means, and by piling on wood and
stirring now with pokers and now with iron rods, the curdled mass
rapidly began to liquefy. Then, knowing I had brought the dead to life
again, against the firm opinion of those ignoramuses, I felt such vigour
fill my veins, that all those pains of fever, all those fears of death,
were quite forgotten.

All of a sudden an explosion took place, attended by a tremendous flash
of flame, as though a thunderbolt had formed and been discharged amongst
us. Unwonted and appalling terror astonished every one, and me more even
than the rest. When the din was over and the dazzling light
extinguished, we began to look each other in the face. Then I discovered
that the cap of the furnace had blown up, and the bronze was bubbling
over from its source beneath. So I had the mouths of my mould
immediately opened, and at the same time drove in the two plugs which
kept back the molten metal. But I noticed that it did not flow as
rapidly as usual, the reason being probably that the fierce heat of the
fire we kindled had consumed its base alloy. Accordingly I sent for all
my pewter platters, porringers, and dishes, to the number of some two
hundred pieces, and had a portion of them cast, one by one, into the
channels, the rest into the furnace. This expedient succeeded, and every
one could now perceive that my bronze was in most perfect liquefaction,
and my mould was filling; whereupon they all with heartiness and happy
cheer assisted and obeyed my bidding, while I, now here, now there, gave
orders, helped with my own hands, and cried aloud: “O God! Thou that by
Thy immeasurable power didst rise from the dead, and in Thy glory didst
ascend to heaven!”…. even thus in a moment my mould was filled;
and seeing my work finished, I fell upon my knees, and with all my heart
gave thanks to God.

After all was over, I turned to a plate of salad on a bench there, and
ate with hearty appetite, and drank together with the whole crew.
Afterwards I retired to bed, healthy and happy, for it was now two hours
before morning, and slept as sweetly as though I had never felt a touch
of illness. My good housekeeper, without my giving any orders, had
prepared a fat capon for my repast. So that, when I rose, about the hour
for breaking fast, she presented herself with a smiling countenance, and
said: “Oh! is that the man who felt that he was dying? Upon my word, I
think the blows and kicks you dealt us last night, when you were so
enraged, and had that demon in your body as it seemed, must have
frightened away your mortal fever! The fever feared that it might catch
it too, as we did!” All my poor household, relieved in like measure from
anxiety and overwhelming labour, went at once to buy earthen vessels in
order to replace the pewter I had cast away. Then we dined together
joyfully; nay, I cannot remember a day in my whole life when I dined
with greater gladness or a better appetite.

After our meal I received visits from the several men who had assisted
me. They exchanged congratulations, and thanked God for our success,
saying they had learned and seen things done which other masters judged
impossible. I too grew somewhat glorious; and deeming I had shown myself
a man of talent, indulged a boastful humour. So I thrust my hand into my
purse, and paid them all to their full satisfaction.

That evil fellow, my mortal foe, Messer Pier Francesco Ricci, majordomo
of the Duke, took great pains to find out how the affair had gone. In
answer to his questions, the two men whom I suspected of having caked my
metal for me, said I was no man, but of a certainty some powerful devil,
since I had accomplished what no craft of the art could do; indeed they
did not believe a mere ordinary fiend could work such miracles as I in
other ways had shown. They exaggerated the whole affair so much,
possibly in order to excuse their own part in it, that the majordomo
wrote an account to the Duke, who was then in Pisa, far more marvellous
and full of thrilling incidents than what they had narrated.


AFTER I had let my statue cool for two whole days, I began to uncover it
by slow degrees. The first thing I found was that the head of Medusa had
come out most admirably, thanks to the air-vents; for, as I had told the
Duke, it is the nature of fire to ascend. Upon advancing farther, I
discovered that the other head, that, namely, of Perseus, had succeeded
no less admirably; and this astonished me far more, because it is at a
considerably lower level than that of the Medusa. Now the mouths of the
mould were placed above the head of Perseus and behind his shoulders;
and I found that all the bronze my furnace contained had been exhausted
in the head of this figure. It was a miracle to observe that not one
fragment remained in the orifice of the channel, and that nothing was
wanting to the statue. In my great astonishment I seemed to see in this
the hand of God arranging and controlling all.

I went on uncovering the statue with success, and ascertained that
everything had come out in perfect order, until I reached the foot of
the right leg on which the statue rests. There the heel itself was
formed, and going farther, I found the foot apparently complete. This
gave me great joy on the one side, but was half unwelcome to me on the
other, merely because I had told the Duke that it could not come out.
However, when I reached the end, it appeared that the toes and a little
piece above them were unfinished, so that about half the foot was
wanting. Although I knew that this would add a trifle to my labour, I
was very well pleased, because I could now prove to the Duke how well I
understood my business. It is true that far more of the foot than I
expected had been perfectly formed; the reason of this was that, from
causes I have recently described, the bronze was hotter than our rules
of art prescribe; also that I had been obliged to supplement the alloy
with my pewter cups and platters, which no one else, I think, had ever
done before.

Having now ascertained how successfully my work had been accomplished, I
lost no time in hurrying to Pisa, where I found the Duke. He gave me a
most gracious reception, as did also the Duchess; and although the
majordomo had informed them of the whole proceedings, their Excellencies
deemed my performance far more stupendous and astonishing when they
heard the tale from my own mouth. When I arrived at the foot of Perseus,
and said it had not come out perfect, just as I previously warned his
Excellency, I saw an expression of wonder pass over his face, while he
related to the Duchess how I had predicted this beforehand. Observing
the princes to be so well disposed towards me, I begged leave from the
Duke to go to Rome. He granted it in most obliging terms, and bade me
return as soon as possible to complete his Perseus; giving me letters of
recommendation meanwhile to his ambassador, Averardo Serristori. We were
then in the first years of Pope Giulio de Monti. 1

Note 1. Gio Maria del Monte Sansovino was elected Pope, with the title
of Julius III., in February 1550.


BEFORE leaving home, I directed my workpeople to proceed according to
the method I had taught them. The reason of my journey was as follows. I
had made a life-sized bust in bronze of Bindo Altoviti, [1] the son of
Antonio, and had sent it to him at Rome. He set it up in his study,
which was very richly adorned with antiquities and other works of art;
but the room was not designed for statues or for paintings, since the
windows were too low, so that the light coming from beneath spoiled the
effect they would have produced under more favourable conditions. It
happened one day that Bindo was standing at his door, when Michel Agnolo
Buonarroti, the sculptor, passed by; so he begged him to come in and see
his study. Michel Agnolo followed, and on entering the room and looking
round, he exclaimed: “Who is the master who made that good portrait of
you in so fine a manner? You must know that that bust pleases me as
much, or even more, than those antiques; and yet there are many fine
things to be seen among the latter. If those windows were above instead
of beneath, the whole collection would show to greater advantage, and
your portrait, placed among so many masterpieces, would hold its own
with credit.” No sooner had Michel Agnolo left the house of Bindo than
he wrote me a very kind letter, which ran as follows: “My dear
Benvenuto, I have known you for many years as the greatest goldsmith of
whom we have any information; and henceforward I shall know you for a
sculptor of like quality. I must tell you that Master Bindo Altoviti
took me to see his bust in bronze, and informed me that you had made it.
I was greatly pleased with the work; but it annoyed me to notice that it
was placed in a bad light; for if it were suitably illuminated, it would
show itself to be the fine performance that it is.” This letter abounded
with the most affectionate and complimentary expressions towards myself;
and before I left for Rome, I showed it to the Duke, who read it with
much kindly interest, and said to me: “Benvenuto, if you write to him,
and can persuade him to return to Florence, I will make him a member of
the Forty-eight.” [2] Accordingly I wrote a letter full of warmth, and
offered in the Duke’s name a hundred times more than my commission
carried; but not wanting to make any mistake, I showed this to the Duke
before I sealed it, saying to his most illustrious Excellency: “Prince,
perhaps I have made him too many promises.” He replied: “Michel Agnolo
deserves more than you have promised, and I will bestow on him still
greater favours.” To this letter he sent no answer, and I could see that
the Duke was much offended with him.

Note 1. This man was a member of a very noble Florentine family. Born in
1491, he was at this epoch Tuscan Consul in Rome. Cellini’s bust of him
still exists in the Palazzo Altoviti at Rome.

Note 2. This was one of the three Councils created by Clement VII. in
1532, when he changed the Florentine constitution. It corresponded to a


WHEN I reached Rome, I went to lodge in Bindo Altoviti’s house. He told
me at once how he had shown his bronze bust to Michel Agnolo, and how
the latter had praised it. So we spoke for some length upon this topic.
I ought to narrate the reasons why I had taken this portrait. Bindo had
in his hands 1200 golden crowns of mine, which formed part of 5000 he
had lent the Duke; 4000 were his own, and mine stood in his name, while
I received that portion of the interest which accrued to me. [1] This
led to my taking his portrait; and when he saw the wax model for the
bust, he sent me fifty golden scudi by a notary in his employ, named Ser
Giuliano Paccalli. I did not want to take the money, so I sent it back
to him by the same hand, saying at a later time to Bindo: “I shall be
satisfied if you keep that sum of mine for me at interest, so that I may
gain a little on it.” When we came to square accounts on this occasion,
I observed that he was ill disposed towards me, since, instead of
treating me affectionately, according to his previous wont, he put on a
stiff air; and although I was staying in his house, he was never
good-humoured, but always surly. However, we settled our business in a
few words. I sacrificed my pay for his portrait, together with the
bronze, and we arranged that he should keep my money at 15 per cent.
during my natural life.

Note 1. To make the sum correct, 5200 ought to have been lent the Duke.


ONE of the first things I did was to go and kiss the Pope’s feet; and
while I was speaking with his Holiness, Messer Averardo Serristori, our
Duke’s Envoy, arrived. [1] I had made some proposals to the Pope, which
I think he would have agreed upon, and I should have been very glad to
return to Rome on account of the great difficulties which I had at
Florence. But I soon perceived that the ambassador had countermined me.

Then I went to visit Michel Agnolo Buonarroti, and repeated what I had
written from Florence to him in the Duke’s name. He replied that he was
engaged upon the fabric of S. Peter’s, and that this would prevent him
from leaving Rome. I rejoined that, as he had decided on the model of
that building, he could leave its execution to his man Urbino, who would
carry out his orders to the letter. I added much about future favours,
in the form of a message from the Duke. Upon this he looked me hard in
the face, and said with a sarcastic smile: “And you! to what extent are
you satisfied with him?” Although I replied that I was extremely
contented and was very well treated by his Excellency, he showed that he
was acquainted with the greater part of my annoyances, and gave as his
final answer that it would be difficult for him to leave Rome. To this I
added that he could not do better than to return to his own land, which
was governed by a prince renowned for justice, and the greatest lover of
the arts and sciences who ever saw the light of this world. As I have
remarked above, he had with him a servant of his who came from Urbino,
and had lived many years in his employment, rather as valet and
housekeeper than anything else; this indeed was obvious, because he had
acquired no skill in the arts. [2] Consequently, while I was pressing
Michel Agnolo with arguments he could not answer, he turned round
sharply to Urbino, as though to ask him his opinion. The fellow began to
bawl out in his rustic way: “I will never leave my master Michel
Agnolo’s side till I shall have flayed him or he shall have flayed me.”
These stupid words forced me to laugh, and without saying farewell, I
lowered my shoulders and retired.

Note 1. His despatches form a valuable series of historical documents.
'Firenze,' Le Monnier, 1853.

Note 2. Upon the death of this Urbino, Michel Agnolo wrote a touching
sonnet and a very feeling letter to Vasari.


THE MISERABLE bargain I had made with Bindo Altoviti, losing my bust and
leaving him my capital for life, taught me what the faith of merchants
is; so I returned in bad spirits to Florence. I went at once to the
palace to pay my respects to the Duke, whom I found to be at Castello
beyond Ponte a Rifredi. In the palace I met Messer Pier Francesco Ricci,
the majordomo, and when I drew nigh to pay him the usual compliments, he
exclaimed with measureless astonishment: “Oh, are you come back?” and
with the same air of surprise, clapping his hands together, he cried:
“The Duke is at Castello!” then turned his back and left me. I could not
form the least idea why the beast behaved in such an extraordinary
manner to me.

Proceeding at once to Castello, and entering the garden where the Duke
was, I caught sight of him at a distance; but no sooner had he seen me
than he showed signs of surprise, and intimated that I might go about my
business. I had been reckoning that his Excellency would treat me with
the same kindness, or even greater, as before I left for Rome; so now,
when he received me with such rudeness. I went back, much hurt, to
Florence. While resuming my work and pushing my statue forward, I racked
my brains to think what could have brought about this sudden change in
the Duke’s manner. The curious way in which Messer Sforza and some other
gentlemen close to his Excellency’s person eyed me, prompted me to ask
the former what the matter was. He only replied with a sort of smile:
“Benvenuto, do your best to be an honest man, and have no concern for
anything else.” A few days afterwards I obtained an audience of the
Duke, who received me with a kind of grudging grace, and asked me what I
had been doing at Rome. To the best of my ability I maintained the
conversation, and told him the whole story about Bindo Altoviti’s bust.
It was evident that he listened with attention; so I went on talking
about Michel Agnolo Buonarroti. At this he showed displeasure; but
Urbino’s stupid speech about the flaying made him laugh aloud. Then he
said: “Well, it is he who suffers!” and I took my leave.

There can be no doubt that Ser Pier Francesco, the majordomo, must have
served me some ill turn with the Duke, which did not, however, succeed;
for God, who loves the truth, protected me, as He hath ever saved me,
from a sea of dreadful dangers, and I hope will save me till the end of
this my life, however full of trials it may be. I march forward,
therefore, with a good heart, sustained alone by His divine power; nor
let myself be terrified by any furious assault of fortune or my adverse
stars. May only God maintain me in His grace!


I MUST beg your attention now, most gracious reader, for a very terrible
event which happened.

I used the utmost diligence and industry to complete my statue, and went
to spend my evenings in the Duke’s wardrobe, assisting there the
goldsmiths who were working for his Excellency. Indeed, they laboured
mainly on designs which I had given them. Noticing that the Duke took
pleasure in seeing me at work and talking with me, I took it into my
head to go there sometimes also by day. It happened upon one of those
days that his Excellency came as usual to the room where I was occupied,
and more particularly because he heard of my arrival. His Excellency
entered at once into conversation, raising several interesting topics,
upon which I gave my views so much to his entertainment that he showed
more cheerfulness than I had ever seen in him before. All of a sudden,
one of his secretaries appeared, and whispered something of importance
in his ear; whereupon the Duke rose, and retired with the official into
another chamber. Now the Duchess had sent to see what his Excellency was
doing, and her page brought back this answer: “The Duke is talking and
laughing with Benvenuto, and is in excellent good-humour.” When the
Duchess heard this, she came immediately to the wardrobe, and not
finding the Duke there, took a seat beside us. After watching us at work
a while, she turned to me with the utmost graciousness, and showed me a
necklace of large and really very fine pearls. On being asked by her
what I thought of them, I said it was in truth a very handsome ornament.
Then she spoke as follows: “I should like the Duke to buy them for me;
so I beg you, my dear Benvenuto, to praise them to him as highly as you
can.” At these words I disclosed my mind to the Duchess with all the
respect I could, and answered: “My lady, I thought this necklace of
pearls belonged already to your most illus trious Excellency. Now that I
am aware you have not yet acquired them, it is right, nay, more, it is
my duty to utter what I might otherwise have refrained from saying,
namely, that my mature professional experience enables me to detect very
grave faults in the pearls, and for this reason I could never advise
your Excellency to purchase them.” She replied: “The merchant offers
them for six thousand crowns; and were it not for some of those trifling
defects you speak of, the rope would be worth over twelve thousand.” To
this I replied, that “even were the necklace of quite flawless quality,
I could not advise any one to bid up to five thousand crowns for it; for
pearls are not gems; pearls are but fishes’ bones, which in the course
of time must lose their freshness. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and
sapphires, on the contrary, never grow old; these four are precious
stones, and these it is quite right to purchase.” When I had thus
spoken, the Duchess showed some signs of irritation, and exclaimed: “I
have a mind to possess these pearls; so, prithee, take them to the Duke,
and praise them up to the skies; even if you have to use some words
beyond the bounds of truth, speak them to do me service; it will be well
for you!”

I have always been the greatest friend of truth and foe of lies: yet
compelled by necessity, unwilling to lose the favour of so great a
princess, I took those confounded pearls sorely against my inclination,
and went with them over to the other room, whither the Duke had
withdrawn. No sooner did he set eyes upon me than he cried: “O
Benvenuto! what are you about here?” I uncovered the pearls and said:
“My lord, I am come to show you a most splendid necklace of pearls, of
the rarest quality, and truly worthy of your Excellency; I do not
believe it would be possible to put together eighty pearls which could
show better than these do in a necklace. My counsel therefore is, that
you should buy them, for they are in good sooth miraculous.” He
responded on the instant: “I do not choose to buy them; they are not
pearls of the quality and goodness you affirm; I have seen the necklace,
and they do not please me.” Then I added: “Pardon me, prince! These
pearls exceed in rarity and beauty any which were ever brought together
for a necklace.” The Duchess had risen, and was standing behind a door
listening to all I said. Well, when I had praised the pearls a
thousandfold more warmly than I have described above, the Duke turned
towards me with a kindly look, and said. “O my dear Benvenuto, I know
that you have an excellent judgment in these matters. If the pearls are
as rare as you certify, I should not hesitate about their purchase,
partly to gratify the Duchess, and partly to possess them, seeing I have
always need of such things, not so much for her Grace, as for the
various uses of my sons and daughters.” When I heard him speak thus,
having once begun to tell fibs, I stuck to them with even greater
boldness; I gave all the colour of truth I could to my lies, confiding
in the promise of the Duchess to help me at the time of need. More than
two hundred crowns were to be my commission on the bargain, and the
Duchess had intimated that I should receive so much; but I was firmly
resolved not to touch a farthing, in order to secure my credit, and
convince the Duke I was not prompted by avarice. Once more his
Excellency began to address me with the greatest courtesy: “I know that
you are consummate judge of these things; therefore, if you are the
honest man I always thought you, tell me now the truth.” Thereat I
flushed up to my eyes, which at the same time filled with tears, and
said to him: “My lord, if I tell your most illustrious Excellency the
truth, I shall make a mortal foe of the Duchess; this will oblige me to
depart from Florence, and my enemies will begin at once to pour contempt
upon my Perseus, which I have announced as a masterpiece to the most
noble school of your illustrious Excellency. Such being the case, I
recommend myself to your most illustrious Excellency.”


THE DUKE was now aware that all my previous speeches had been, as it
were, forced out of me. So he rejoined: “If you have confidence in me,
you need not stand in fear of anything whatever.” I recommenced: “Alas!
my lord, what can prevent this coming to the ears of the Duchess?” The
Duke lifted his hand in sign of troth-pledge, [1] and exclaimed: “Be
assured that what you say will be buried in a diamond casket!” To this
engagement upon honour I replied by telling the truth according to my
judgment, namely, that the pearls were not worth above two thousand
crowns. The Duchess, thinking we had stopped talking, for we now were
speaking in as low a voice as possible, came forward, and began as
follows: “My lord, do me, the favour to purchase this necklace, because
I have set my heart on them, and your Benvenuto here has said he never
saw a finer row of pearls.” The Duke replied: “I do not choose to buy
them.” “Why, my lord, will not your Excellency gratify me by buying
them?” “Because I do not care to throw my money out of the window.” The
Duchess recommenced: “What do you mean by throwing your money away, when
Benvenuto, in whom you place such well-merited confidence, has told me
that they would be cheap at over three thousand crowns?” Then the Duke
said; “My lady! my Benvenuto here has told me that, if I purchase this
necklace, I shall be throwing my money away, inasmuch as the pearls are
neither round nor well-matched, and some of them are quite faded. To
prove that this is so, look here! look there! consider this one and then
that. The necklace is not the sort of thing for me.” At these words the
Duchess cast a glance of bitter spite at me, and retired with a
threatening nod of her head in my direction. I felt tempted to pack off
at once and bid farewell to Italy. Yet my Perseus being all but
finished, I did not like to leave without exposing it to public view.
But I ask every one to consider in what a grievous plight I found myself!

The Duke had given orders to his porters in my presence, that if I
appeared at the palace, they should always admit me through his
apartments to the place where he might happen to be. The Duchess
commanded the same men, whenever I showed my face at that palace, to
drive me from its gates. Accordingly, no sooner did I present myself,
than these fellows left their doors and bade me begone; at the same time
they took good care lest the Duke should perceive what they were after;
for if he caught sight of me before those wretches, he either called me,
or beckoned to me to advance.

At this juncture the Duchess sent for Bernardone, the broker, of whom
she had so often complained to me, abusing his good-for-nothingness and
utter worthlessness. She now confided in him as she had previously done
in me. He replied: “My princess, leave the matter in my hands.” Then the
rascal presented himself before the Duke with that necklace in his
hands. No sooner did the Duke set eyes on him than he bade him begone.
But the rogue lifted his big ugly voice, which sounded like the braying
of an ass through his huge nose, and spoke to this effect: “Ah! my dear
lord, for Heaven’s sake buy this necklace for the poor Duchess, who is
dying to have it, and cannot indeed live without it.” The fellow poured
forth so much of this stupid nonsensical stuff that the Duke’s patience
was exhausted, and he cried: “Oh, get away with you, or blow your chaps
out till I smack them!” The knave knew very well what he was after; for
if by blowing out his cheeks or singing 'La Bella Frances-china,' [2] he
could bring the Duke to make that purchase, then he gained the good
grace of the Duchess, and to boot his own commission, which rose to some
hundreds of crowns. Consequently he did blow out his chaps. The Duke
smacked them with several hearty boxes, and, in order to get rid of him,
struck rather harder than his wont was. The sound blows upon his cheeks
not only reddened them above their natural purple, but also brought
tears into his eyes. All the same, while smarting, he began to cry: “Lo!
my lord, a faithful servant of his prince, who tries to act rightly, and
is willing to put up with any sort of bad treatment, provided only that
poor lady have her heart’s desire!” The Duke tired of the ribald fellow,
either to recompense the cuffs which he had dealt him, or for the
Duchess’ sake, whom he was ever most inclined to gratify, cried out:
“Get away with you, with God’s curse on you! Go, make the bargain; I am
willing to do what my lady Duchess wishes.”

From this incident we may learn to know how evil Fortune exerts her rage
against a poor right-minded man, and how the strumpet Luck can help a
miserable rascal. I lost the good graces of the Duchess once and for
ever, and thereby went close to having the Duke’s protection taken from
me. He acquired that thumping fee for his commission, and to boot their
favour. Thus it will not serve us in this world to be merely men of
honesty and talent.

Note 1. 'Alzò la fede.'

Note 2. A popular ballad of the time.


ABOUT this time the war of Siena broke out, [1] and the Duke, wishing to
fortify Florence, distributed the gates among his architects and
sculptors. I received the Prato gate and the little one of Arno, which
is on the way to the mills. The Cavaliere Bandinello got the gate of San
Friano; Pasqualino d’Ancona, the gate at San Pier Gattolini; Giulian di
Baccio d’Agnolo, the wood-carver, had the gate of San Giorgio;

Particino, the wood-carver, had the gate of Santo Niccolò; Francesco da
San Gallo, the sculptor, called Il Margolla, got the gate of Santa
Croce; and Giovan Battista, surnamed Il Tasso, the gate Pinti. [2] Other
bastions and gates were assigned to divers engineers, whose names I do
not recollect, nor indeed am I concerned with them. The Duke, who
certainly was at all times a man of great ability, went round the city
himself upon a tour of inspection, and when he had made his mind up, he
sent for Lattanzio Gorini, one of his paymasters. Now this man was to
some extent an amateur of military architecture; so his Excellency
commissioned him to make designs for the fortifications of the gates,
and sent each of us his own gate drawn according to the plan. After
examining the plan for mine, and perceiving that it was very incorrect
in many details, I took it and went immediately to the Duke. When I
tried to point out these defects, the Duke interrupted me and exclaimed
with fury: “Benvenuto, I will give way to you upon the point of
statuary, but in this art of fortification I choose that you should cede
to me. So carry out the design which I have given you.” To these brave
words I answered as gently as I could, and said: “My lord, your most
illustrious Excellency has taught me something even in my own fine art
of statuary, inasmuch as we have always exchanged ideas upon that
subject; I beg you then to deign to listen to me upon this matter of
your fortifications, which is far more important than making statues. If
I am permitted to discuss it also with your Excellency, you will be
better able to teach me how I have to serve you.” This courteous speech
of mine induced him to discuss the plans with me; and when I had clearly
demonstrated that they were not conceived on a right method, he said:
“Go, then, and make a design yourself, and I will see if it satisfies
me.” Accordingly, I made two designs according to the right principles
for fortifying those two gates, and took them to him; and when he
distinguished the true from the false system, he exclaimed good
humouredly: “Go and do it in your own way, for I am content to have it
so.” I set to work then with the greatest diligence.

Note 1. In the year 1552, when Piero Strozzi acted as general for the
French King, Henri II., against the Spaniards. The war ended in the
capitulation of Siena in 1555. In 1557 it was ceded by Philip II. to
Cosimo de’ Medici.

Note 2. These artists, with the exception of pasqualino, are all known
to us in the conditions described by Cellini. Francesco da San Gallo was
the son of Giuliano, and nephew of Antonio da San Gallo.


THERE was on guard at the gate of Prato a certain Lombard captain; he
was a truculent and stalwart fellow, of incredibly coarse speech, whose
presumption matched his utter ignorance. This man began at once to ask
me what I was about there. I politely exhibited my drawings, and took
infinite pains to make him understand my purpose. The rude brute kept
rolling his head, and turning first to one side and then to the other,
shifting himself upon his legs, and twirling his enormous moustachios;
then he drew his cap down over his eyes and roared out: “Zounds! deuce
take it! I can make nothing of this rigmarole.” At last the animal
became so tiresome that I said: “Leave it then to me, who do understand
it,” and turned my shoulders to go about my business. At this he began
to threaten me with his head, and, setting his left hand on the pommel
of his sword, tilted the point up, and exclaimed: “Hullo, my master! you
want perhaps to make me cross blades with you?” I faced round in great
fury, for the man had stirred my blood, and cried out: “It would be less
trouble to run you through the body than to build the bastion of this
gate.” In an instant we both set hands to our swords, without quite
drawing; for a number of honest folk, citizens of Florence, and others
of them courtiers, came running up. The greater part of them rated the
captain, telling him that he was in the wrong, that I was a man to give
him back as good as I got, and that if this came to the Duke’s ears, it
would be the worse for him. Accordingly he went off on his own business,
and I began with my bastion.

After setting things in order there, I proceeded to the other little
gate of Arno, where I found a captain from Cesena, the most polite,
well-mannered man I ever knew in that profession. He had the air of a
gentle young lady, but at need he could prove himself one of the boldest
and bloodiest fighters in the world. This agreeable gentleman observed
me so attentively that he made me bashful and self-conscious; and seeing
that he wanted to understand what I was doing, I courteously explained
my plans. Suffice it to say, that we vied with each other in civilities,
which made me do far better with this bastion than with the other.

I had nearly finished the two bastions when an inroad of Piero Strozzi’s
people struck such terror into the countryfolk of Prato that they began
to leave it in a body, and all their carts, laden with the household
goods of each family, came crowding into the city. The number of them
was so enormous, cart jostling with cart, and the confusion was so
great, that I told the guards to look out lest the same misadventure
should happen at this gate as had occurred at the gates of Turin; for if
we had once cause to lower the portcullis, it would not be able to
perform its functions, but must inevitably stick suspended upon one of
the waggons. When that big brute of a captain heard these words, he
replied with insults, and I retorted in the same tone. We were on the
point of coming to a far worse quarrel than before. However, the folk
kept us asunder; and when I had finished my bastions, I touched some
score of crowns, which I had not expected, and which were uncommonly
welcome. So I returned with a blithe heart to finish my Perseus.


DURING those days some antiquities had been discovered in the country
round Arezzo. Among them was the Chimæra, that bronze lion which is to
be seen in the rooms adjacent to the great hall of the palace. [1]
Together with the Chimæra a number of little statuettes, likewise in
bronze, had been brought to light; they were covered with earth and
rust, and each of them lacked either head or hands or feet. The Duke
amused his leisure hours by cleaning up these statuettes himself with
certain little chisels used by goldsmiths. It happened on one occasion
that I had to speak on business to his Excellency; and while we were
talking, he reached me a little hammer, with which I struck the chisels
the Duke held, and so the figures were disengaged from their earth and
rust. In this way we passed several evenings, and then the Duke
commissioned me to restore the statuettes. He took so much pleasure in
these trifles that he made me work by day also, and if I delayed coming,
he used to send for me. I very often submitted to his Excellency that if
I left my Perseus in the daytime, several bad consequences would ensue.
The first of these, which caused me the greatest anxiety, was that,
seeing me spend so long a time upon my statue, the Duke himself might
get disgusted; which indeed did afterwards happen. The other was that I
had several journeymen who in my absence were up to two kinds of
mischief; first, they spoilt my piece, and then they did as little work
as possible. These arguments made his Excellency consent that I should
only go to the palace after twenty-four o’clock.

I had now conciliated the affection of his Excellency to such an extent,
that every evening when I came to him he treated me with greater
kindness. About this time the new apartments were built toward the
lions; [2] the Duke then wishing to be able to retire into a less public
part of the palace, fitted up for himself a little chamber in these new
lodgings, and ordered me approach to it by a private passage. I had to
pass through his wardrobe, then across the stage of the great hall, and
afterwards through certain little dark galleries and cabinets. The
Duchess, however, after a few days, deprived me of this means of access
by having all the doors upon the path I had to traverse locked up. The
consequence was that every evening when I arrived at the palace, I had
to wait a long while, because the Duchess occupied the cabinets for her
personal necessities. [3] Her habit of body was unhealthy, and so I
never came without incommoding her. This and other causes made her hate
the very sight of me. However, nothwithstanding great discomforts and
daily annoyances, I persevered in going. The Duke’s orders, meanwhile,
were so precise, that no sooner did I knock at those doors, than they
were immediately opened, and I was allowed to pass freely where I chose.
The consequence was that occasionally, while walking noiselessly and
unexpectedly through the private rooms, I came upon the Duchess at a
highly inconvenient moment. Bursting then into such a furious storm of
rage that I was frightened, she cried out: “When will you ever finish
mending up those statuettes? Upon my word, this perpetual going and
coming of yours has grown to be too great a nuisance.” I replied as
gently as I could: “My lady and sole mistress, I have no other desire
than to serve you loyally and with the strictest obedience. This work to
which the Duke has put me will last several months; so tell me, most
illustrious Excellency, whether you wish me not to come here any more.
In that case I will not come, whoever calls me; nay, should the Duke
himself send for me, I shall reply that I am ill, and by no means will I
intrude again.” To this speech she made answer: “I do not bid you not to
come, nor do I bid you to disobey the Duke; but I repeat that your work
seems to me as though it would never be finished.”

Whether the Duke heard something of this encounter, or whatever the
cause was, he began again as usual. Toward twenty-four o’clock he sent
for me; and his messenger always spoke to this effect: “Take good care,
and do not fail to come, for the Duke is waiting for you.” In this way I
continued, always with the same inconveniences, to put in an appearance
on several successive evenings. Upon one occasion among others, arriving
in my customary way, the Duke, who had probably been talking with the
Duchess about private matters, turned upon me in a furious anger. I was
terrified, and wanted to retire. But he called out: “Come in, friend
Benvenuto; go to your affairs; I will rejoin you in a few moments.”
While I was passing onward, Don Garzia, then quite a little fellow,
plucked me by the cape, and played with me as prettily as such a child
could do. The Duke looked up delighted, and exclaimed: “What pleasant
and friendly terms my boys are on with you!”

Note 1. Now in the Uffizzi.

Note 2. Lions from a very early period had always been kept in part of
the Palazzo Vecchio.

Note 3. 'Alle sue comoditâ.'


WHILE I was working at these bagatelles, the Prince, and Don Giovanni,
and Don Arnando, and Don Garzia kept always hovering around me, teasing
me whenever the Duke’s eyes were turned. [1] I begged them for mercy’s
sake to hold their peace. They answered: “That we cannot do.” I told
them: “What one cannot is required of no one! So have your will! Along
with you!” At this both Duke and Duchess burst out laughing.

Another evening, after I had finished the small bronze figures which are
wrought into the pedestal of Perseus, that is to say, the Jupiter,
Mercury, Minerva, and Danæ, with the little Perseus seated at his
mother’s feet, I had them carried into the room where I was wont to
work, and arranged them in a row, raised somewhat above the line of
vision, so that they produced a magnificent effect. The Duke heard of
this, and made his entrance sooner than usual. It seems that the person
who informed his Excellency praised them above their merit, using terms
like “far superior to the ancients,” and so forth; wherefore the Duke
came talking pleasantly with the Duchess about my doings. I rose at once
and went to meet them. With his fine and truly princely manner he
received me, lifting his right hand, in which he held as superb a
pear-graft as could possibly be seen. “Take it, my Benvenuto!” he
exclaimed; “plant this pear in your garden.” To these words I replied
with a delighted gesture: “O my lord, does your most illustrious
Excellency really mean that I should plant it in the garden of my house?
“Yes,” he said, “in the garden of the house which belongs to you. Have
you understood me?” I thanked his Excellency, and the Duchess in like
manner, with the best politeness I could use.

After this they both took seats in front of the statues, and for more
than two hours went on talking about nothing but the beauties of the
work. The Duchess was wrought up to such an enthusiasm that she cried
out: “I do not like to let those exquisite figures be wasted on the
pedestal down there in the piazza, where they will run the risk of being
injured. I would much rather have you fix them in one of my apartments,
where they will be preserved with the respect due to their singular
artistic qualities.” I opposed this plan with many forcible arguments;
but when I saw that she was determined I should not place them on the
pedestal where they now stand, I waited till next day, and went to the
palace about twenty-two o’clock. Ascertaining that the Duke and Duchess
were out riding, and having already prepared the pedestal, I had the
statues carried down, and soldered them with lead into their proper
niches. Oh, when the Duchess knew of this, how angry she was! Had it not
been for the Duke, who manfully defended me, I should have paid dearly
for my daring. Her indignation about the pearls, and now again about
this matter of the statues, made her so contrive that the Duke abandoned
his amusements in our workshop. Consequently I went there no more, and
was met again with the same obstructions as formerly whenever I wanted
to gain access to the palace.

Note 1. The Prince was Don Francesco, then aged twelve; Don Giovanni was
ten, Don Garzia was six, and Don Ferdinando four.


I RETURNED to the Loggia, [1] whither my Perseus had already been
brought, and went on putting the last touches to my work, under the old
difficulties always; that is to say, lack of money, and a hundred
untoward accidents, the half of which would have cowed a man armed with

However, I pursued my course as usual; and one morning, after I had
heard mass at San Piero Scheraggio, that brute Bernardone, broker,
worthless goldsmith, and by the Duke’s grace purveyor to the mint,
passed by me. No sooner had he got outside the church than the dirty pig
let fly four cracks which might have been heard from San Miniato. I
cried: “Yah! pig, poltroon, donkey! is that the noise your filthy
talents make?” and ran off for a cudgel. He took refuge on the instant
in the mint; while I stationed myself inside my housedoor, which I left
ajar, setting a boy at watch upon the street to warn me when the pig
should leave the mint. After waiting some time, I grew tired, and my
heat cooled. Reflecting, then, that blows are not dealt by contract, and
that some disaster might ensue, I resolved to wreak my vengeance by
another method. The incident took place about the feast of our San
Giovanni, one or two days before; so I composed four verses, and stuck
them up in an angle of the church where people go to ease themselves.
The verses ran as follows:--

“Here lieth Bernardone, ass and pig,

Spy, broker, thief, in whom Pandora planted

All her worst evils, and from thence transplanted

Into that brute Buaccio’s carcass big.” 2

Both the incident and the verses went the round of the palace, giving
the Duke and Duchess much amusement. But, before the man himself knew
what I had been up to, crowds of people stopped to read the lines and
laughed immoderately at them. Since they were looking towards the mint
and fixing their eyes on Bernardone, his son, Maestro Baccio, taking
notice of their gestures, tore the paper down with fury. The elder bit
his thumb, shrieking threats out with that hideous voice of his, which
comes forth through his nose; indeed he made a brave defiance. 3

Note 1. That is, the Loggia de’ Lanzi, on the great piazza of Florence,
where Cellini’s statue still stands.

Note 2. If I understand the obscure lines of the original, Cellini
wanted to kill two birds with one stone by this epigram--both Bernardone
and his son Baccio. But by Buaccio he generally means Baccio Bandinelli.

Note 3. To bite the thumb at any one was, as students of our old drama
know, a sign of challenge or provocation.


WHEN the Duke was informed that the whole of my work for the Perseus
could be exhibited as finished, he came one day to look at it. His
manner showed clearly that it gave him great satisfaction; but
afterwards he turned to some gentlemen attending him and said: “Although
this statue seems in our eyes a very fine piece, still it has yet to win
the favour of the people. Therefore, my Benvenuto, before you put the
very last touches on, I should like you, for my sake, to remove a part
of the scaffolding on the side of the piazza, some day toward noon, in
order that we may learn what folk think of it. There is no doubt that
when it is thrown open to space and light, it will look very differently
from what it does in this enclosure.” I replied with all humility to his
Excellency: “You must know, my lord, that it will make more than twice
as good a show. Oh, how is it that your most illustrious Excellency has
forgotten seeing it in the garden of my house? There, in that large
extent of space, it showed so bravely that Bandinello, coming through
the garden of the Innocents to look at it, was compelled, in spite of
his evil and malignant nature, to praise it, he who never praised aught
or any one in all his life! I perceive that your Excellency lends too
ready an ear to that fellow.” When I had done speaking, he smiled
ironically and a little angrily; yet he replied with great kindness: “Do
what I ask, my Benvenuto, just to please me.”

When the Duke had left, I gave orders to have the screen removed. Yet
some trifles of gold, varnish, and various other little finishings were
still wanting; wherefore I began to murmur and complain indignantly,
cursing the unhappy day which brought me to Florence. Too well I knew
already the great and irreparable sacrifice I made when I left France;
nor could I discover any reasonable ground for hope that I might prosper
in the future with my prince and patron. From the commencement to the
middle and the ending, everything that I had done had been performed to
my great disadvantage. Therefore, it was with deep ill-humour that I
disclosed my statue on the following day.

Now it pleased God that, on the instant of its exposure to view, a shout
of boundless enthusiasm went up in commendation of my work, which
consoled me not a little. The folk kept on attaching sonnets to the
posts of the door, which was protected with a curtain while I gave the
last touches to the statue. I believe that on the same day when I opened
it a few hours to the public, more than twenty were nailed up, all of
them overflowing with the highest panegyrics. Afterwards, when I once
more shut it off from view, every day brought sonnets, with Latin and
Greek verses; for the University of Pisa was then in vacation, and all
the doctors and scholars kept vying with each other who could praise it
best. But what gratified me most, and inspired me with most hope of the
Duke’s support, was that the artists, sculptors and painters alike,
entered into the same generous competition. I set the highest value on
the eulogies of that excellent painter Jacopo Pontormo, and still more
on those of his able pupil Bronzino, who was not satisfied with merely
publishing his verses, but sent them by his lad Sandrino’s hand to my
own house. [1] They spoke so generously of my performance, in that fine
style of his which is most exquisite, that this alone repaid me somewhat
for the pain of my long troubles. So then I closed the screen, and once
more set myself to finishing my statue.

Note 1. Jacopo Carrucci da Pantormo was now an old man. He died in 1558,
aged sixty-five years. Angelo Allori, called Il Bronzino, one of the
last fairly good Florentine painters, won considerable distinction as a
writer of burlesque poems. He died in 1571, aged sixty-nine years. We
possess his sonnets of the perseus.


THE GREAT compliments which this short inspection of my Perseus had
elicited from the noble school of Florence, though they were well known
to the Duke, did not prevent him from saying: “I am delighted that
Benvenuto has had this trifling satisfaction, which will spur him on to
the desired conclusion with more speed and diligence. Do not, however,
let him imagine that, when his Perseus shall be finally exposed to view
from all sides, folk in general will be so lavish of their praises. On
the contrary, I am afraid that all its defects will then be brought home
to him, and more will be detected than the statue really has. So let him
arm himself with patience.” These were precisely the words which
Bandinello had whispered in the Duke’s ears, citing the works of Andrea
del Verrocchio, who made that fine bronze of Christ and S. Thomas on the
front of Orsammichele; at the same time he referred to many other
statues, and dared even to attack the marvellous David of divine Michel
Agnolo Buonarroti, accusing it of only looking well if seen in front;
finally, he touched upon the multitude of sarcastic sonnets which were
called forth by his own Hercules and Cacus, and wound up with abusing
the people of Florence. Now the Duke, who was too much inclined to
credit his assertions, encouraged the fellow to speak thus, and thought
in his own heart that things would go as he had prophesied, because that
envious creature Bandinello never ceased insinuating malice. On one
occasion it happened that the gallows bird Bernardone, the broker, was
present at these conversations, and in support of Bandinello’s
calumnies, he said to the Duke: “You must remember, prince, that statues
on a large scale are quite a different dish of soup from little figures.
I do not refuse him the credit of being excellent at statuettes in
miniature. But you will soon see that he cannot succeed in that other
sphere of art.” To these vile suggestions he added many others of all
sorts, plying his spy’s office, and piling up a mountain of lies to boot.


NOW it pleased my glorious Lord and immortal God that at last I brought
the whole work to completion: and on a certain Thursday morning I
exposed it to the public gaze. [1] Immediately, before the sun was fully
in the heavens, there assembled such a multitude of people that no words
could describe them. All with one voice contended which should praise it
most. The Duke was stationed at a window low upon the first floor of the
palace, just above the entrance; there, half hidden, he heard everything
the folk were saying of my statue. After listening through several
hours, he rose so proud and happy in his heart that he turned to his
attendant, Messer Sforza, and exclaimed: “Sforza, go and seek out
Benvenuto; tell him from me that he has delighted me far more than I
expected: say too that I shall reward him in a way which will astonish
him; so bid him be of good courage.”

In due course, Messer Sforza discharged this glorious embassy, which
consoled me greatly. I passed a happy day, partly because of the Duke’s
message, and also because the folk kept pointing me out as something
marvellous and strange. Among the many who did so, were two gentlemen,
deputed by the Viceroy of Sicily [2] to our Duke on public business. Now
these two agreeable persons met me upon the piazza: I had been shown
them in passing, and now they made monstrous haste to catch me up; then,
with caps in hand, they uttered an oration so ceremonious, that it would
have been excessive for a Pope. I bowed, with every protestation of
humility. They meanwhile continued loading me with compliments, until at
last I prayed them, for kindness’ sake, to leave the piazza in my
company, because the folk were stopping and staring at me more than at
my Perseus. In the midst of all these ceremonies, they went so far as to
propose that I should come to Sicily, and offered to make terms which
should content me. They told me how Fra Giovan Agnolo de’ Servi [3] had
constructed a fountain for them, complete in all parts, and decorated
with a multitude of figures; but it was not in the same good style they
recognised in Perseus, and yet they had heaped riches on the man. I
would not suffer them to finish all their speeches, but answered: “You
give me much cause for wonder, seeking as you do to make me quit the
service of a prince who is the greatest patron of the arts that ever
lived; and I too here in my own birthplace, famous as the school of
every art and science! Oh, if my soul’s desire had been set on lucre, I
could have stayed in France, with that great monarch Francis, who gave
me a thousand golden crowns a year for board, and paid me in addition
the price of all my labour. In his service I gained more than four
thousand golden crowns the year.”

With these and such like words I cut their ceremonies short, thanking
them for the high praises they had bestowed upon me, which were indeed
the best reward that artists could receive for their labours. I told
them they had greatly stimulated my zeal, so that I hoped, after a few
years were passed, to exhibit another masterpiece, which I dared believe
would yield far truer satisfaction to our noble school of Florence. The
two gentlemen were eager to resume the thread of their complimentary
proposals, whereupon I, lifting my cap and making a profound bow, bade
them a polite farewell.

Note 1. April 27, 1554.

Note 2. Don Juan de Vega.

Note 3. Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli entered the Order of the Servites in
1530. This did not prevent him from plying his profession of sculptor.
The work above alluded to is the fountain at Messina.


WHEN two more days had passed, and the chorus of praise was ever on the
increase, I resolved to go and present myself to the Duke, who said with
great good-humour: “My Benvenuto, you have satisfied and delighted me;
but I promise that I will reward you in such wise as will make you
wonder; and I tell you that I do not mean to delay beyond to-morrow.” On
hearing this most welcome assurance, I turned all the forces of my soul
and body to God, fervently offering up thanks to Him. At the same moment
I approached the Duke, and almost weeping for gladness, kissed his robe.
Then I added: “O my glorious prince, true and most generous lover of the
arts, and of those who exercise them! I entreat your most illustrious
Excellency to allow me eight days first to go and return thanks to God;
for I alone know what travail I have endured, and that my earnest faith
has moved Him to assist me. In gratitude for this and all other
marvellous mercies, I should like to travel eight days on pilgrimage,
continually thanking my immortal God, who never fails to help those who
call upon Him with sincerity.” The Duke then asked me where I wished to
go. I answered: “To-morrow I shall set out for Vallombrosa, thence to
Camaldoli and the Ermo, afterwards I shall proceed to the Bagni di Santa
Maria, and perhaps so far as Sestile, because I hear of fine antiquities
to be seen there. [1] Then I shall retrace my steps by San Francesco
della Vernia, and, still with thanks to God, return light-hearted to
your service.” The Duke replied at once with cheerful kindness: “Go and
come back again, for of a truth you please me; but do not forget to send
a couple of lines by way of memorandum, and leave the rest to me.”

I wrote four lines that very day, in which I thanked his Excellency for
expected favours, and gave these to Messer Sforza, who placed them in
the Duke’s hands. The latter took them, and then handed them to Messer
Sforza, remarking: “See that you put these lines each day where I can
see them; for if Benvenuto comes back and finds I have not despatched
his business, I think that he will murder me.” Thus laughing, his
Excellency asked to be reminded. Messer Sforza reported these precise
words to me on the same evening, laughing too and expressing wonder at
the great favour shown me by the Duke. He pleasantly added: “Go,
Benvenuto, and come again quickly, for indeed I am jealous of you.”

Note 1. The Ermo is more correctly Eremo, and Vernia is Alvernia.


IN God’s name then I left Florence, continually singing psalms and
prayers in His honour upon all that journey. I enjoyed it extremely; for
the season was fine, in early summer, and the country through which I
travelled, and which I had never seen before, struck me as marvellously
beautiful. Now I had taken with me to serve as guide a young workman in
my employ, who came from Bagno, and was called Cesare. Thanks to him,
then, I received the kindest hospitality from his father and all his
family, among whom was an old man of more than seventy, extremely
pleasant in his conversation. He was Cesare’s uncle, a surgeon by
profession, and a dabbler in alchemy. This excellent person made me
observe that the Bagni contained mines of gold and silver, and showed me
many interesting objects in the neighbourhood; so that I enjoyed myself
as much as I have ever done.

One day, when we had become intimate and he could trust me, he spoke as
follows: “I must not omit to tell you a thought of mine, to which his
Excellency might with advantage pay attention. It is, that not far from
Camaldoli there lies a mountain pass so ill defended, that Piero Strozzi
could not only cross it without risk, but might also seize on Poppi [1]
unmolested.” Not satisfied with this description, he also took a sheet
of paper from his pouch, upon which the good old man had drawn the whole
country, so that the seriousness of the danger could be manifest upon
inspection of the map. I took the design and left Bagno at once,
travelling homeward as fast as I could by Prato Magno and San Francesco
della Vernia. On reaching Florence, I only stopped to draw off my
riding-boots, and hurried to the palace. Just opposite the Badia I met
the Duke, who was coming by the palace of the Podesta. When he saw me he
gave me a very gracious reception, and showing some surprise, exclaimed:
“Why have you come back so quickly; I did not expect you for eight days
at least.” I answered: “The service of your most illustrious Excellency
brings me back, else I should very willingly have stayed some few days
longer on my journey through that lovely country.” “Well, and what good
news have you?” said he. I answered: “Prince, I must talk to you about
things of the greatest importance which I have to disclose.” So I
followed him to the palace, and when we were there, he took me privately
into a chamber where we stayed a while alone together. I then unfolded
the whole matter and showed him the little map, with which he seemed to
be much gratified. When I told his Excellency that one ought to take
measures at once, he reflected for a little while and then said: “I may
inform you that we have agreed with the Duke of Urbino that he should
guard the pass; but do not speak about it.” Then he dismissed me with
great demonstrations of good-will, and I went home.

Note 1. A village in the Castenino. Piero Strozzi was at this time in


NEXT day I presented myself, and, after a few words of conversation, the
Duke addressed me cheerfully; “To-morrow, without fail, I mean to
despatch your business; set your mind at rest, then.” I, who felt sure
that he meant what he said, waited with great impatience for the morrow.
When the longed-for day arrived, I betook me to the palace; and as it
always happens that evil tidings travel faster than good news, Messer
Giacopo Guidi, [1] secretary to his Excellency, called me with his wry
mouth and haughty voice; drawing himself up as stiff as a poker, he
began to speak to this effect: “The Duke says he wants you to tell him
how much you ask for your Perseus.” I remained dumbfounded and
astonished; yet I quickly replied that it was not my custom to put
prices on my work, and that this was not what his Excellency had
promised me two days ago. The man raised his voice, and ordered me
expressly in the Duke’s name, under the penalty of his severe
displeasure, to say how much I wanted. Now I had hoped not only to gain
some handsome reward, trusting to the mighty signs of kindness shown me
by the Duke, but I had still more expected to secure the entire good
graces of his Excellency, seeing I never asked for anything, but only
for his favour. Accordingly, this wholly unexpected way of dealing with
me put me in a fury, and I was especially enraged by the manner which
that venomous toad assumed in discharging his commission. I exclaimed
that if the Duke gave me ten thousand crowns I should not be paid
enough, and that if I had ever thought things would come to this
haggling, I should not have settled in his service. Thereupon the surly
fellow began to abuse me, and I gave it him back again.

Upon the following day, when I paid my respects to the Duke, he beckoned
to me. I approached, and he exclaimed in anger: “Cities and great
palaces are built with ten thousands of ducats.” I rejoined: “Your
Excellency can find multitudes of men who are able to build you cities
and palaces, but you will not, perhaps, find one man in the world who
could make a second Perseus.” Then I took my leave without saying or
doing anything farther. A few days afterwards the Duchess sent for me,
and advised me to put my difference with the Duke into her hands, since
she thought she could conduct the business to my satisfaction. On
hearing these kindly words I replied that I had never asked any other
recompense for my labours than the good graces of the Duke, and that his
most illustrious Excellency had assured me of this; it was not needful
that I should place in their Excellencies’ hands what I had always
frankly left to them from the first days when I undertook their service.
I farther added that if his most illustrious Excellency gave me but a
'crazia,' [2] which is worth five farthings, for my work, I should
consider myself contented, provided only that his Excellency did not
deprive me of his favour. At these words the Duchess smiled a little and
said: “Benvenuto, you would do well to act as I advise you.” Then she
turned her back and left me. I thought it was my best policy to speak
with the humility I have above described; yet it turned out that I had
done the worst for myself, because, albeit she had harboured some angry
feelings toward me, she had in her a certain way of dealing which was

Note 1. It appears from a letter written by Guidi to Bandinelli that he
hated Cellini, whom he called 'pessimo mostro di natura.' Guidi was made
Bishop of Penna in 1561, and attended the Council of Trent.

Note 2. A small Tuscan coin.


ABOUT that time I was very intimate with Girolamo degli Albizzi, [1]
commissary of the Duke’s militia. One day this friend said to me: “O
Benvenuto, it would not be a bad thing to put your little difference of
opinion with the Duke to rights; and I assure you that if you repose
confidence in me, I feel myself the man to settle matters. I know what I
am saying. The Duke is getting really angry, and you will come badly out
of the affair. Let this suffice; I am not at liberty to say all I know.”
Now, subsequently to that conversation with the Duchess, I had been told
by some one, possibly a rogue, that he had heard how the Duke said upon
some occasion which offered itself: “For less than two farthings I will
throw Perseus to the dogs, and so our differences will be ended.” This,
then, made me anxious, and induced me to entrust Girolamo degli Albizzi
with the negotiations, telling him anything would satisfy me provided I
retained the good graces of the Duke. That honest fellow was excellent
in all his dealings with soldiers, especially with the militia, who are
for the most part rustics; but he had no taste for statuary, and
therefore could not understand its conditions. Consequently, when he
spoke to the Duke, he began thus: “Prince, Benvenuto has placed himself
in my hands, and has begged me to recommend him to your Excellency.” The
Duke replied: “I too am willing to refer myself to you, and shall be
satisfied with your decision.” Thereupon Girolamo composed a letter,
with much skill and greatly to my honour, fixing the sum which the Duke
would have to pay me at 3500 golden crowns in gold; and this should not
be taken as my proper recompense for such a masterpiece, but only as a
kind of gratuity; enough to say that I was satisfied; with many other
phrases of like tenor, all of which implied the price which I have

The Duke signed this agreement as gladly as I took it sadly. When the
Duchess heard, she said: “It would have been better for that poor man if
he had placed himself in my hands; I could have got him five thousand
crowns in gold.” One day, when I went to the palace, she repeated these
same words to me in the presence of Messer Alamanno Salviati, [2] and
laughed at me a little, saying that I deserved my bad luck.

The Duke gave orders that I should be paid a hundred golden crowns in
gold per month, until the sum was discharged; and thus it ran for some
months. Afterwards, Messer Antonio de’ Nobili, who had to transact the
business, began to give me fifty, and sometimes later on he gave me
twenty-five, and sometimes nothing. Accordingly, when I saw that the
settlement was being thus deferred, I spoke good-humouredly to Messer
Antonio, and begged him to explain why he did not complete my payments.
He answered in a like tone of politeness; yet it struck me that he
exposed his own mind too much. Let the reader judge. He began by saying
that the sole reason why he could not go forward regularly with these
payments, was the scarcity of money at the palace; but he promised, when
cash came in, to discharge arrears. Then he added: “Oh heavens! if I did
not pay you, I should be an utter rogue.” I was somewhat surprised to
hear him speak in that way; yet I resolved to hope that he would pay me
when he had the power to do so. But when I observed that things went
quite the contrary way, and saw that I was being pillaged, I lost temper
with the man, and recalled to his memory hotly and in anger what he had
declared he would be if he did not pay me. However, he died; and five
hundred crowns are still owing to me at the present date, which is nigh
upon the end of 1566. [3] There was also a balance due upon my salary
which I thought would be forgotten, since three years had elapsed
without payment. But it so happened that the Duke fell ill of a serious
malady, remaining forty-eight hours without passing water. Finding that
the remedies of his physicians availed nothing, it is probable that he
betook himself to God, and therefore decreed the discharge of all debts
to his servants. I too was paid on this occasion, yet I never obtained
what still stood out upon my Perseus.

Note 1. A warm partisan of the Medici. He was a cousin of Maria
Salviati, Cosimo’s mother. It was rumoured that he caused the historian
Francesco Guicciardini’s death by poison. We find him godfather to one
of Cellini’s children.

Note 2. This Salviati and the De’ Nobili mentioned afterwards occupied a
distinguished place in Florentine annals as partisans of the Medici.

Note 3. Cellini began to write his 'Memoirs' in 1558. Eight years had
therefore now elapsed.


I HAD almost determined to say nothing more about that unlucky Perseus;
but a most remarkable incident, which I do not like to omit, obliges me
to do so; wherefore I must now turn back a bit, to gather up the thread
of my narration. I thought I was acting for the best when I told the
Duchess that I could not compromise affairs which were no longer in my
hands, seeing I had informed the Duke that I should gladly accept
whatever he chose to give me. I said this in the hope of gaining favour;
and with this manifestation of submissiveness I employed every likely
means of pacifying his resentment; for I ought to add that a few days
before he came to terms with Albizzi, the Duke had shown he was
excessively displeased with me. The reason was as follows: I complained
of some abominable acts of injustice done to me by Messer Alfonso
Quistelli, Messer Jacopo Polverino of the Exchequer, and more than all
by Ser Giovanbattista Brandini of Volterra. When, therefore, I set forth
my cause with some vehemence, the Duke flew into the greatest rage
conceivable. Being thus in anger, he exclaimed: “This is just the same
as with your Perseus, when you asked those ten thousand crowns. You let
yourself be blinded by mere cupidity. Therefore I shall have the statue
valued, and shall give you what the experts think it worth.” To these
words I replied with too much daring and a touch of indignation, which
is always out of place in dealing with great princes: “How is it
possible that my work should be valued at its proper worth when there is
not a man in Florence capable of performing it?” That increased his
irritation; he uttered many furious phrases, and among them said: “There
is in Florence at this day a man well able to make such a statue, and
who is therefore highly capable of judging it.” He meant Bandinello,
Cavaliere of S. Jacopo. [1] Then I rejoined: “My lord, your most
illustrious Excellency gave me the means of producing an important and
very difficult masterpiece in the midst of this the noblest school of
the world; and my work has been received with warmer praises than any
other heretofore exposed before the gaze of our incomparable masters. My
chief pride is the commendation of those able men who both understand
and practise the arts of design--as in particular Bronzino, the painter;
this man set himself to work, and composed four sonnets couched in the
choicest style, and full of honour to myself. Perhaps it was his example
which moved the whole city to such a tumult of enthusiasm. I freely
admit that if sculpture were his business instead of painting, then
Bronzino might have been equal a to task like mine. Michel Agnolo
Buonarroti, again, whom I am proud to call my master; he, I admit, could
have achieved the same success when he was young, but not with less
fatigue and trouble than I endured. But now that he is far advanced in
years, he would most certainly be found unequal to the strain. Therefore
I think I am justified in saying that no man known upon this earth could
have produced my Perseus. For the rest, my work has received the
greatest reward I could have wished for in this world; chiefly and
especially because your most illustrious Excellency not only expressed
yourself satisfied, but praised it far more highly than any one beside.
What greater and more honourable prize could be desired by me? I affirm
most emphatically that your Excellency could not pay me with more
glorious coin, nor add from any treasury a wealth surpassing this.
Therefore I hold myself overpaid already, and return thanks to your most
illustrious Excellency with all my heart.” The Duke made answer:
“Probably you think I have not the money to pay you. For my part, I
promise you that I shall pay you more for the statue than it is worth.”
Then I retorted: “I did not picture to my fancy any better recompense
from your Excellency; yet I account myself amply remunerated by that
first reward which the school of Florence gave me. With this to console
me, I shall take my departure on the instant, without returning to the
house you gave me, and shall never seek to set my foot in this town
again.” We were just at S. Felicita, and his Excellency was proceeding
to the palace. When he heard these choleric words, he turned upon me in
stern anger and exclaimed: “You shall not go; take heed you do not go!”
Half terrified, I then followed him to the palace.

On arriving there, his Excellency sent for the Archbishop of Pisa, named
De, Bartolini, and Messer Pandolfo della Stufa, [2] requesting them to
order Baccio Bandinelli, in his name, to examine well my Perseus and
value it, since he wished to pay its exact price. These excellent men
went forthwith and performed their embassy. In reply Bandinello said
that he had examined the statue minutely, and knew well enough what it
was worth; but having been on bad terms otherwise with me for some time
past, he did not care to be entangled anyhow in my affairs. Then they
began to put a gentle pressure on him, saying: “The Duke ordered us to
tell you, under pain of his displeasure, that you are to value the
statue, and you may have two or three days to consider your estimate.
When you have done so, tell us at what price it ought to be paid.” He
answered that his judgment was already formed, that he could not disobey
the Duke, and that my work was rich and beautiful and excellent in
execution; therefore he thought sixteen thousand crowns or more would
not be an excessive price for it. Those good and courteous gentlemen
reported this to the Duke, who was mightily enraged; they also told the
same to me. I replied that nothing in the world would induce me to take
praise from Bandinello, “seeing that this bad man speaks ill of
everybody.” My words were carried to the Duke; and that was the reason
why the Duchess wanted me to place the matter in her hands. All that I
have written is the pure truth. I will only add that I ought to have
trusted to her intervention, for then I should have been quickly paid,
and should have received so much more into the bargain.

Note 1. Bandinelli was a Knight of S. James of Compostella.

Note 2. Onofrio de’ Bartolini was made Archbishop of Pisa in 1518, at
the age of about seventeen. He was a devoted adherent of the Medici. He
was shut up with Clement in S. Angelo, and sent as hostage to the
Imperial army. Pandolfo della Stufa had been cup-bearer to Caterina de’
Medici while Dauphinéss.


THE DUKE sent me word by Messer Lelio Torello, [1] his Master of the
Rolls, [2] that he wanted me to execute some bas-reliefs in bronze for
the choir of S. Maria del Fiore. Now the choir was by Bandinello, and I
did not choose to enrich his bad work with my labours. He had not indeed
designed it, for he understood nothing whatever about architecture; the
design was given by Giuliano, the son of that Baccio d’Agnolo, the
wood-carver, who spoiled the cupola. [3] Suffice it to say that it shows
no talent. For both reasons I was determined not to undertake the task,
although I told the Duke politely that I would do whatever his most
illustrious Excellency ordered. Accordingly, he put the matter into the
hands of the Board of Works for S. Maria del Fiore, [4] telling them to
come to an agreement with me; he would continue my allowance of two
hundred crowns a year, while they were to supply the rest out of their

In due course I came before the Board, and they told me what the Duke
had arranged. Feeling that I could explain my views more frankly to
these gentlemen, I began by demonstrating that so many histories in
bronze would cost a vast amount of money, which would be totally thrown
away, giving all my reasons, which they fully appreciated. In the first
place, I said that the construction of the choir was altogether
incorrect, without proportion, art, convenience, grace, or good design.
In the next place, the bas-reliefs would have to stand too low, beneath
the proper line of vision; they would become a place for dogs to piss
at, and be always full of ordure. Consequently, I declined positively to
execute them. However, since I did not wish to throw away the best years
of my life, and was eager to serve his most illustrious Excellency, whom
I had the sincerest desire to gratify and obey, I made the following
proposal. Let the Duke, if he wants to employ my talents, give me the
middle door of the cathedral to perform in bronze. This would be well
seen, and would confer far more glory on his most illustrious
Excellency. I would bind myself by contract to receive no remuneration
unless I produced something better than the finest of the Baptistery
doors. [5] But if I completed it according to my promise, then I was
willing to have it valued, and to be paid one thousand crowns less than
the estimate made by experts.

The members of the Board were well pleased with this suggestion, and
went at once to report the matter to the Duke, among them being Piero
Salviati. They expected him to be extremely gratified with their
communication, but it turned out just the contrary. He replied that I
was always wanting to do the exact opposite of what he bade me; and so
Piero left him without coming to any conclusion. On hearing this, I went
off to the Duke at once, who displayed some irritation when he saw me.
However, I begged him to condescend to hear me, and he replied that he
was willing. I then began from the beginning, and used such convincing
arguments that he saw at last how the matter really stood, since I made
it evident that he would only be throwing a large sum of money away.
Then I softened his temper by suggesting that if his most illustrious
Excellency did not care to have the door begun, two pulpits had anyhow
to be made for the choir, and that these would both of them be
considerable works, which would confer glory on his reign; for my part,
I was ready to execute a great number of bronze bas-reliefs with
appropriate decorations. In this way I brought him round, and he gave me
orders to construct the models.

Accordingly I set at work on several models, and bestowed immense pains
on them. Among these there was one with eight panels, carried out with
far more science than the rest, and which seemed to me more fitted for
the purpose. Having taken them several times to the place, his
Excellency sent word by Messer Cesare, the keeper of his wardrobe, that
I should leave them there. After the Duke had inspected them, I
perceived that he had selected the least beautiful. One day he sent for
me, and during our conversation about the models, I gave many reasons
why the octagonal pulpit would be far more convenient for its destined
uses, and would produce a much finer effect. He answered that he wished
me to make it square, because he liked that form better; and thus he
went on conversing for some time very pleasantly. I meanwhile lost no
opportunity of saying everything I could in the interests of art. Now
whether the Duke knew that I had spoken the truth, or whether he wanted
to have his own way, a long time passed before I heard anything more
about it.

Note 1. A native of Fano. Cosimo’s Auditore, 1539; first Secretary or
Grand Chancellor, 1546. He was a great jurist.

Note 2. 'Suo auditore.'

Note 3. It was Baccio d’Agnolo who altered Brunelleschi’s plan for the
cupola. Buonarroti used to say that he made it look like a cage for
crickets. His work remained unfinished.

Note 4. 'Operai di S. Maria del Fiore.'

Note 5. He means Ghiberti’s second door, in all probability.


ABOUT this time the great block of marble arrived which was intended for
the Neptune. It had been brought up the Arno, and then by the Grieve [1]
to the road at Poggio a Caiano, in order to be carried to Florence by
that level way; and there I went to see it. Now I knew very well that
the Duchess by her special influence had managed to have it given to
Bandinello. No envy prompted me to dispute his claims, but rather pity
for that poor unfortunate piece of marble. Observe, by the way, that
everything, whatever it may be, which is subject to an evil destiny,
although one tries to save it from some manifest evil, falls at once
into far worse plight; as happened to this marble when it came into the
hands of Bartolommeo Ammanato, [2] of whom I shall speak the truth in
its proper place. After inspecting this most splendid block, I measured
it in every direction, and on returning to Florence, made several little
models suited to its proportions. Then I went to Poggio a Caiano, where
the Duke and Duchess were staying, with their son the Prince. I found
them all at table, the Duke and Duchess dining in a private apartment;
so I entered into conversation with the Prince. We had been speaking for
a long while, when the Duke, who was in a room adjacent, heard my voice,
and condescended very graciously to send for me. When I presented myself
before their Excellencies, the Duchess addressed me in a very pleasant
tone; and having thus opened the conversation, I gradually introduced
the subject of that noble block of marble I had seen. I then proceeded
to remark that their ancestors had brought the magnificent school of
Florence to such a pitch of excellence only by stimulating competition
among artists in their several branches. It was thus that the wonderful
cupola and the lovely doors of San Giovanni had been produced, together
with those multitudes of handsome edifices and statues which made a
crown of artistic glory for their city above anything the world had seen
since the days of the ancients. Upon this the Duchess, with some anger,
observed that she very well knew what I meant, and bade me never mention
that block of marble in her presence, since she did not like it. I
replied: “So, then, you do not like me to act as the attorney of your
Excellencies, and to do my utmost to ensure your being better served?
Reflect upon it, my lady; if your most illustrious Excellencies think
fit to open the model for a Neptune to competition, although you are
resolved to give it to Bandinello, this will urge Bandinello for his own
credit to display greater art and science than if he knew he had no
rivals. In this way, my princes, you will be far better served, and will
not discourage our school of artists; you will be able to perceive which
of us is eager to excel in the grand style of our noble calling, and
will show yourselves princes who enjoy and understand the fine arts.”
The Duchess, in a great rage, told me that I tired her patience out; she
wanted the marble for Bandinello, adding: “Ask the Duke; for his
Excellency also means Bandinello to have it.” When the Duchess had
spoken, the Duke, who had kept silence up to this time, said: “Twenty
years ago I had that fine block quarried especially for Bandinello, and
so I mean that Bandinello shall have it to do what he likes with it.” I
turned to the Duke and spoke as follows: “My lord, I entreat your most
illustrious Excellency to lend a patient hearing while I speak four
words in your service.” He told me to say all I wanted, and that he
would listen. Then I began: “You will remember, my lord, that the marble
which Bandinello used for his Hercules and Cacus was quarried for our
incomparable Michel Agnolo Buonarroti. He had made the model for a
Samson with four figures, which would have been the finest masterpiece
in the whole world; but your Bandinello got out of it only two figures,
both ill-executed and bungled in the worst manner; wherefore our school
still exclaims against the great wrong which was done to that
magnificent block. I believe that more than a thousand sonnets were put
up in abuse of that detestable performance; and I know that your most
illustrious Excellency remembers the fact very well. Therefore, my
powerful prince, seeing how the men to whose care that work was
entrusted, in their want of taste and wisdom, took Michel Agnolo’s
marble away from him, and gave it to Bandinello, who spoilt it in the
way the whole world knows, oh! will you suffer this far more splendid
block, although it belongs to Bandinello, to remain in the hands of that
man who cannot help mangling it, instead of giving it to some artist of
talent capable of doing it full justice? Arrange, my lord, that every
one who likes shall make a model; have them all exhibited to the school;
you then will hear what the school thinks; your own good judgment will
enable you to select the best; in this way, finally, you will not throw
away your money, nor discourage a band of artists the like of whom is
not to be found at present in the world, and who form the glory of your
most illustrious Excellency.”

The Duke listened with the utmost graciousness; then he rose from table,
and turning to me, said: “Go, my Benvenuto, make a model, and earn that
fine marble for yourself; for what you say is the truth, and I
acknowledge it.” The Duchess tossed her head defiantly, and muttered I
know not what angry sentences.

I made them a respectful bow and returned to Florence, burning with
eagerness to set hands upon my model.

Note 1. Instead of the Grieve, which is not a navigable stream, it
appears that Cellini ought to have written the Ombrone.

Note 2. This sculptor was born in 1511, and died in 1592. He worked
under Bandinelli and Sansovino.


WHEN the Duke came to Florence, he sought me at my house without giving
me previous notice. I showed him two little models of different design.
Though he praised them both, he said that one of them pleased him better
than the other; I was to finish the one he liked with care; and this
would be to my advantage. Now his Excellency had already seen
Bandinello’s designs, and those of other sculptors; but, as I was
informed by many of his courtiers who had heard him, he commended mine
far above the rest. Among other matters worthy of record and of great
weight upon this point, I will mention the following. The Cardinal of
Santa Fiore was on a visit to Florence, and the Duke took him to Poggio
a Caiano. Upon the road, noticing the marble as he passed, the Cardinal
praised it highly, inquiring of his Excellency for what sculptor he
intended it. The Duke replied at once: “For my friend Benvenuto, who has
made a splendid model with a view to it.” This was reported to me by men
whom I could trust.

Hearing what the Duke had said, I went to the Duchess, and took her some
small bits of goldsmith’s work, which greatly pleased her Excellency.
Then she asked what I was doing, and I replied: “My lady, I have taken
in hand for my pleasure one of the most laborious pieces which have ever
been produced. It is a Christ of the whitest marble set upon a cross of
the blackest, exactly of the same size as a tall man. She immediately
inquired what I meant to do with it. I answered: “You must know my lady,
that I would not sell it for two thousand golden ducats; it is of such
difficult execution that I think no man ever attempted the like before;
nor would I have undertaken it at the commission of any prince whatever,
for fear I might prove inadequate to the task. I bought the marbles with
my own money, and have kept a young man some two years as my assistant
in the work. What with the stone, the iron frame to hold it up, and the
wages, it has cost me above three hundred crowns. Consequently, I would
not sell it for two thousand. But if your Excellency deigns to grant me
a favour which is wholly blameless, I shall be delighted to make you a
present of it. All I ask is that your Excellency will not use your
influence either against or for the models which the Duke has ordered to
be made of the Neptune for that great block of marble.” She replied with
mighty indignation: “So then you value neither my help nor my
opposition?” “On the contrary, I value them highly, princess; or why am
I offering to give you what I value at two thousand ducats? But I have
such confidence in my laborious and well-trained studies, that I hope to
win the palm, even against the great Michel Agnolo Buonarroti, from whom
and from no one else I have learned all that I know. Indeed, I should be
much better pleased to enter into competition with him who knows so much
than with those others who know but little of their art. Contending with
my sublime master, I could gain laurels in plenty, whereas there are but
few to be reaped in a contest with these men.” After I had spoken, she
rose in a half-angry mood, and I returned to work with all the strength
I had upon my model.

When it was finished, the Duke came to see it, bringing with him two
ambassadors, one from the Duke of Ferrara, the other from the Signory of
Lucca. They were delighted, and the Duke said to those two gentlemen:
“Upon my word, Benvenuto deserves to have the marble.” Then they both
paid me the highest compliments, especially the envoy from Lucca, who
was a person of accomplishments and learning. [1] I had retired to some
distance in order that they might exchange opinions freely; but when I
heard that I was being complimented, I came up, turned to the Duke, and
said: “My lord, your most illustrious Excellency ought now to employ
another admirable device: decree that every one who likes shall make a
model in clay exactly of the same size as the marble has to be. In this
way you will be able to judge far better who deserves the commission;
and I may observe that if your Excellency does not give it to the
sculptor who deserves it, this will not wrong the man so much, but will
reflect great discredit upon yourself, since the loss and shame will
fall on you. On the other hand, if you award it to the one who has
deserved it, you will acquire great glory in the first place, and will
employ your treasure well, while artists will believe that you
appreciate and understand their business.” No sooner had I finished
speaking than the Duke shrugged his shoulders, and began to move away.
While they were taking leave the ambassador of Lucca said to the Duke:
“Prince, this Benvenuto of yours is a terrible man!” The Duke responded:
“He is much more terrible than you imagine, and well were it for him if
he were a little less terrible; then he would possess at the present
moment many things which he has not got.” These precise words were
reported to me by the envoy, by way of chiding and advising me to change
my conduct. I told him that I had the greatest wish to oblige my lord as
his affectionate and faithful servant, but that I did not understand the
arts of flattery. Several months after this date, Bandinello died; and
it was thought that, in addition to his intemperate habits of life, the
mortification of having probably to lose the marble contributed to his

Note 1. Probably Girolamo Lucchesini.


BANDINELLO had received information of the crucifix which, as I have
said above, I was now engaged upon. Accordingly he laid his hands at
once upon a block of marble, and produced the Pietà which may be seen in
the church of the Annunziata. Now I had offered my crucifix to S. Maria
Novella, and had already fixed up the iron clamps whereby I meant to
fasten it against the wall. I only asked for permission to construct a
little sarcophagus upon the ground beneath the feet of Christ, into
which I might creep when I was dead. The friars told me that they could
not grant this without the consent of their building committee. [1] I
replied: “Good brethren, why did not you consult your committee before
you allowed me to place my crucifix? Without their leave you suffered me
to fix my clamps and other necessary fittings.”

On this account I refused to give those fruits of my enormous labours to
the church of S. Maria Novella, even though the overseers of the fabric
came and begged me for the crucifix. I turned at once to the church of
the Annunziata, and when I explained the terms on which I had sought to
make a present of it to S. Maria Novella, those virtuous friars of the
Nunziata unanimously told me to place it in their church, and let me
make my grave according to my will and pleasure. When Bandinello became
aware of this, he set to work with great diligence at the completion of
his Pietà, and prayed the Duchess to get for him the chapel of the Pazzi
for his monument. This he obtained with some difficulty; and on
receiving the permission, he erected his Pietà with great haste. It was
not altogether completed when he died.

The Duchess then said that, even as she had protected him in life, so

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