CELLINI, Benvenuto
(b. 1500, Firenze, d. 1571, Firenze)

Salt Cellar

Gold, enamel and ebony, 26 x 33,5 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Cellini's gold and enamel container for salt and pepper is the most famous example of Mannerist goldsmithery. Cellini tells us that he had five workmen to help him with this and other artistic activities for King François I.

The figures of the Times of Day were inspired by Michelangelo's figures at the Medici Chapel. The salt was offered in a boat placed by the side of Sea, while pepper was served in a covered triumphal arch placed beside Land. Several motifs refer to the king, including the lilies on the cloth below Land, an elephant, and a salamander, François I's personal emblem. The intertwining of the figures and forms is typical of Mannerism, as are the slender proportions of the female figure, the rich materials, and the virtuosity of detail and execution.