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

Salt Cellar

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

Cellini worked in the service of François I from 1537 until 1545, and it was under his patronage in Paris that he made his first sculptures. Arguably his most remarkable individual work dates from this time: a salt cellar made of gold, ebony and enamel, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. This lavish item of tableware is a sculptural group in miniature. Two figures, a male and a female, recline upon an ornate base. She is the goddess of earth, he is Neptune, god of the sea. Below them are carved personifications of the times of the day and the four winds, and beside them sit two beautifully wrought receptacles: a miniature temple to house earth's peppercorns, and a boat to carry Neptune's salt.