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Autobiography
by Benvenuto Cellini
Synopsis: Enter the sixteenth-century world of Italy and the Vatican, where Cellini, a master goldsmith and sculptor, lived and flourished. Whitfield brings Cellini's autobiography to life, fluently rolling Italian and English words off his tongue and capturing the flavor of the tale. Cellini tells of his adventures, his encounters with DaVinci and Michelangelo, the Medicis and other famous people of his era.

Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (1 of 4), Read 49 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2000 05:32 PM Just a reminder that the May discussion for Classics Corner will be The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini. Cellini was a famous 16th century goldsmith and sculptor who lived in Florence during the Renaissance. To quote from the cover of the Penguin Classics edition: With enviable powers of invective and an irrepressible sense of humour reflected in an equally vigorous and extravagant style, Cellini has provided an intriguing and unrivalled glimpse into the palaces and prisons of the Italy of Michelangelo and the Medici. Ann
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (2 of 4), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, April 24, 2000 02:29 PM About 60 pages into the Cellini. I do wish the man could get over his inferiority complex. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (3 of 4), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 08:17 AM I'm about the same amount in, David. It's kind of funny isn't it? I wonder if there were more hours in the day back then (I've often wondered that). All the loving, dueling, impressing of Popes, not to mention the off-handed way he manipulates gold and silver into works of art. How ever did he do it? Sherry
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (4 of 4), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 09:20 PM Hi, Got the Cellini book from the library today. It is the Harvard Classic edition and the index claimed publication 1911 (?). Well I am looking forward to reading the book. Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (5 of 5), Read 3 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 12:07 AM One will never fully know where an autobiography tip toes off the Avenue of Reality but I suspect all memoirs display some renovation of life's experience. Benvenuto Cellini deserves trumpeted fanfares for this rendition of his life. I am not calling any particular of his memoir a fabrication, but so far (I am still in Book I of the Autobiography) the narrative echoes enough Ramboesque dynamism that surely he couldn't resist flashing a few fictional facets of his experiential gems set so magnificently in Renaissance Italy. Perhaps the portrait of a celebrated artist living in celebrated times can accommodate such outsized episodes and I am undermining the true outrageousness of his life by casting skepticism over these delicious details, but regardless of authenticity (I wish it to be mostly true) I'm happy to read the tale and feel privileged to glimpse a creative mind who participated in such an aesthetic explosion. When I was in my early twenties I travelled alone to Florence and I remember seeing Cellini's statue of Perseus. There was some hubbub around it as though it were something of special interest but I am only now becoming aware of why. The book is a pleasure to read and is getting better as I go. SPOILER ALERT: I love chapter LVIII when Pope Clement VII flies into a rage at Benvenuto regarding his unfinished chalice. Ever the temperamental artist Cellini oozes sarcastic denigration: "I tucked the piece beneath my cape, and muttered under my breath: 'The whole world could not compel a blind man to execute such things as these.'" I find intoxicating his irrepressible will, confidence, wit and masculine readiness to defend himself against ill treatment. He projects himself as an honest, hard working genius who takes no s#!+ from nobody. It's a very muscular lifestyle, swashbuckling his way through the day and it's hard to imagine living like that, but it's Cellini's heroic impulse that attracts me most. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (6 of 9), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 01:07 AM Wow, Robt, we sure have differing reactions to this this book. It was that very same attitude of Cellini's that put me off so much I didn't finish the book. I cannot stand a braggart. And it didn't take long for me to decide that I didn't believe anything the guy said. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (7 of 9), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 01:47 AM Ruth, I find his bragging funny and was amused when he put down his host in Venice for being such a braggart. I have been making excuses for him, thinking that it must be a different culture that necessitates vigorous self-promotion in order to succeed given all the malicious forces about. Also, I get a vicarious kick out of his chutzpah since my manner is not very confrontational. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (8 of 9), Read 10 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 08:27 AM I keep waiting for this book to get boring. Up to page 250, and it hasn't done so yet. This surprises me; like Ruth, I don't care for braggarts. But there is a vitality in Cellini that continues to be fascinating. One thing though: he does not show jealousy of the true artistic genius of others, and often says that he is happy just to compete with such people. (Take, for example, his attitude toward the "Divine Michelangelo".) Where he gets impatient is with lesser lights who try to pass themselves off as great artists. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (9 of 9), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 08:52 AM I am fairly ignorant about Renaissance Italy having heretofore related to only a few artists of the period, namely Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli. Somehow my interest wasn't engaged in school and even a visit to Florence didn't get me in a scholarly mood. So, I've taken a book out of the library on Italian Renaissance Art and am looking up the artists and sculptors mentioned in Cellini's Autobiography and filling in a little more information. It makes for slow going but it feels like a discovery and has added much enjoyment to the book. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (10 of 12), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 09:37 PM ROBERT Bad mouthing the competition is not unique to Cellini. The guy who wrote THE DIVINE COMEDY (whose name I can't recall for the life of me) "literally" put his enemies into the rings of hell. As with all good story tellers, there is enough truth in Cellini's words to carry the story. The embellishments are not easy, or even possible, to spot. But I don't care. I don't know any of these people or have any vested interest in their memories, so a good moving story is OK with me. It reminds me a bit of going into Paris with Ed Flanders in the 50's. When we got back to the Barracks, the stories that Flanders told were great. I went to the same places, interacted with the same people, and nobody cared to hear my tale. Ed Flanders told a great story. It made him into a good actor later on. EDD who apologizes for intruding with a reminiscence now and then. DANTE! DANTE! DANTE! DANTE!
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (11 of 12), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 10:11 PM "Anyway, all I need say is that it was through me that the castle was saved that morning and that those other bombardiers came back to their duty. I carried on with the work all day, and then evening approached...The whole month that we were besieged in the castle I was actively engaged with guns...Then I fired and hit him exactly in the middle. With Spanish swagger he was wearing his sword across his front. The result was that the shot struck the sword and cut him in two. The Pope who was taken by surprise was astonished and delighted, but he found it impossible to understand how a gun could be fired accurately at such range, or how on earth the man could have been cut in two..." Yawn. I wish this old drunk would just shut up already. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (12 of 12), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 11:51 PM My sentiments exactly, Dan. I shut him up by clapping the book closed. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (13 of 13), Read 1 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Tonya Presley (tpresley@swbell.net) Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 08:26 AM I've started late, again, and I'm glad to say my experience is more like Robert's than Dan's. I think the book is sort of fun. I have the Penguin Classics edition, with a ton of notes in the end. I started out reading them, and have switched to reading only some of them now. In the end, I believe that, since the text itself is only separated into two great big hunks, I'll appreciate the titles at the tops of pages more than any other feature of the book. Tonya
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (14 of 17), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 10:08 AM Well, I sort of fall in between Dan and Robert. Sometimes I think it is drop my chin funny (I mean, he's fending off the bad guys with five guns with the one hand AND melting down the Pope's gold with the other hand). But then sometimes I think, I've read enough. I get the picture. I don't know if I'll read any more. I might; I might not. Sherry
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (15 of 17), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 04:01 PM Sherry: I love that entire passage--where Cellini fends off the foes and still manages to melt down gold for the Pope. What a man. What a talent. Does anyone here think that Cellini really thought people would take him at his word? He contradicts himself over and over and the entire narrative has a sense of someone babbling and embellishing while staring at the ceiling. He even admits he didn't have time to write the autobiography himself--he dictated it. I've known people who would talk just like this man, never realizing they were contradicting themselves. Well, I am a pleasantly tempered man....Now, then I jumped out the bushes with a sword and tried to kill every last sonofabitch there with honor. No one is going to bad-mouth my art--no one... I will admit that I am intrigued with the characters, albeit they are delineated with Cellini's subjectivity. I get the fleeting sense that I can peer through Cellini's subjective lens and see the kind or type of person he is referring to. Think of Diego, the young boy Cellini dresses as a woman to bring to the "bring your own crow" party. The whole passage of the questioning women and such is realistic and very funny. Now why a woman would check another woman's genitalia--which is supposedly how Diego is discovered--I attribute to a change in customs. But this incident causes enough umbrage to drive the tale onward. So while I complain--and notice earlier Robert's original post isn't all love & kisses either--I think I will finish this work. I want to read where he learns to fly and establishes world peace-or jumps out the bushes (yet again) burning with indignation and seeking retribution. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (16 of 17), Read 10 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 10:56 PM Your discussion is of special interest to me as I am not sure what to make of the book. I also thought he was going a bit too far, defeating half an army with his swordsmanship, killing off most of the invaders by using his minor or major artillery. What I wondered about: Was that kind of bragging in style in the days of the renaissance. In my history seminars our prof. discussed the political chaos that prevailed and asked us why this happened to coincide with the great artistic achievements. Well Cellini was in the middle of chaos and he did produce wonderful art. There is one particular thing I noticed about the author. People turn on him after they get to know him for a while. I would think he was an intolerable person and perhaps only the Pope in all his wisdom and humility put up with him. He does remind me of some of artists whose ego never stops. I am sure I would not have been able to be around this kind of person. Yet, who would deny his genius? Hey, do we have another man icy guy on our hands? Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (17 of 17), Read 2 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Wednesday, May 03, 2000 08:06 AM Ernie, An awful lot of this book has to do with getting paid. Who knows how much of the problem stems from his personality or the times? Pretty baubles in gold do inspire greed and there wasn't the kind of legal guarantees that we enjoy but I think Benvenuto was inspiring something other than admiration. It seems that if he was predisposed to you he would be the most genial friend but offend him and he could lop off your arm. There is also much accusation of treachery, oily advisors to His Holiness or His Majesty who poison his reputation. I wonder how much treachery Cellini engaged in himself. A comparison of other memoirs of the day would be interesting. What is renaissance and what is Cellini? Edd, I looked up Ed Flanders on the Internet Movie Database and he did quite a lot, including playing Harry Truman. sounds like he was an interesting guy. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (18 of 21), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, May 03, 2000 08:30 PM I'm enjoying your notes. So far, I've only read the first 60 pages, from lack of time rather than lack of interest. Hope to catch up this weekend. Ann
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (19 of 21), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 03, 2000 09:19 PM Ernie: I really appreciate your point about Cellini becoming more intolerable as you got to know him better. Apparently, he was the type of person of whom a little goes a long way. Generally, he attributes his troubles to bad luck or the jealously and hatred of others; only occasionally does he admit that, perhaps, he could have handled a situation better himself. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (20 of 21), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 12:43 AM Tonight I saw a portion of MSNBC'S TIME & AGAIN featuring the cinematic techniques used to create a scene in the movie TWISTER. They then showed footage of wreckage from a real twister which touched down at a drive-in movie theatre while TWISTER was showing and ripped the screen right off its frame. I mention this here because if Benvenuto Cellini were alive today he would have been there. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (21 of 21), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 06:23 AM Robert, LOL. I was wondering where that was going. Not only would Cellini been there, he would have somehow saved about 20 people from death while diverting the twister off into the ocean. (And if there wasn't an ocean, he would have found one.) Sherry
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (22 of 26), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 10:22 AM Or created one. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (23 of 26), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 11:11 AM I've been musing a bit about autobiographies in general, having recently finished "The Americanization of Edward Bok" as well as the Cellini. Bok, who was editor of the Ladies' Home Journal from 1889-1919, wrote in a self-deprecatory manner using the third person. On the surface, it seems the antithesis of Cellini's style; however, the effect is spoiled by his constant and irritating name-dropping. He spends pages casually mentioning his friendships with current or past presidents of the U.S., and how he got them to do articles for the Journal. Or he would just happen to be visiting England and drop in on the king. Or he would just happen to be discussing this topic with Henry Ward Beecher or Oliver Wendell Holmes or some other famous literary figure. The man is just as boastful in his own way as Cellini, but at least Benevueto was honest and up-front about it. Is there something in the very nature of autobiography that compels the author to exaggerate his accomplishments and place in history? David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (24 of 26), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 01:09 PM David: In league with the old adage, "Happy people don't write novels," I would imagine that most folks with normal-sized egos aren't enthusiastic about telling the world their life story. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (25 of 26), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 01:22 PM I'm sure Cellini was a nasty acquaintance to have. Even Pope Clement has arguments with his stubbornness. Of course, who wants to hang around a guy so terribly talented and who is never, ever wrong? But now that I'm am nearing the halfway point of this work, I find myself engrossed in Cellini's passions and finances. After the wonderful castle defense, his autobiography seems to settle somewhat and pick up momentum. That, or I am enured to the boasting. I was aghast to find Cellini delving into necromancy without apologies or explanations. In fact, it is a priest who introduces him to the Black Arts. I love the irony of him telling the guy he'll work on the Devil's Bible as soon as he finishes those medals for the Pope. Busy, busy. When was the Spanish Inquisition? Obviously, Cellini's autobiography could have been used as evidence of delving into witchcraft. Considering how Galileo was up for execution if he did not recant his findings, how does Cellini get away with such open blasphemy? He says outright in his autobiography that he used demons to help find his missing courtesan. Was the time his autobiography released a time of open tolerance for sundry religious cults? Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (26 of 26), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 04, 2000 02:06 PM Dan: I think I remember reading in the preface that the Autobiography was not first published until the 1720s, or 150 years after Cellini's death. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (27 of 33), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 09:35 AM David: How fascinating--so all this boasting was a century and a half in the past when the public first found it? Still I admire Cellini for taking the time to have somebody put everything together. And David, I've been thinking of your comments regarding autobiographies as being repositories of boasting and name-dropping. Would anyone read the autobiography of somebody who had nothing to boast about and had really met nobody worth meeting or witness nothing extremely historical? I guess there is a fundamental difference between an autobiography and a diary/journal. The autobiography must, I guess, have at its very core boasting, name dropping and earth-shattering events or no one is going to want to read it. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (28 of 33), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 10:36 AM Dan, I don't think autobiography has to have boasting, name dropping and earth-shattering events in order to be read. The best autobiographies speak to something human in all of us. I think immediately of Angela's Ashes and to a lesser degree Liar's Club. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (29 of 33), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 01:09 PM Ruth: The driving force behind Angela's Ashes is the alcoholism and sordid details--it is what drives the reader onward. I forgot the autobiography of the poverty- or sin-stricken. Captivating reading--yes. It's the "Look what I endured" genre of the autobiography. I'm afraid I am unfamiliar with the other work you mentioned, however. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (30 of 33), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 01:17 PM Same classification, Dan. Ruth, who's sure she's read biographies to refute Dan's argument, but who can't think of any right off the bat
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (31 of 33), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 01:21 PM One of my favorite autobiographies is BORN NAKED by Farley Mowat which has neither boasting, name dropping, poverty or the endurance of terrible hardship. Just the exuberance of youth, observed by an exceptional mind, written beautifully. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (32 of 33), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 01:36 PM And, come to think of it, I'm currently working my way through An American Childhood by Annie Dillard, which might also be called one of the "kinder, gentler" types of autobiography. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (33 of 33), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, May 05, 2000 02:58 PM David & All: I much admired Dillard's AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD, as well as Eudora Welty's ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS. No great tragedy, scandal, or deprivation--just two upper-middle-class white girls in nice neighborhoods with loving parents. What makes the difference, I think, is that these are sensitive, thoughtful writers first and "personalities" second. Much different than the autobiographers by folks who are celebrities in some different arena. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (34 of 34), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Saturday, May 06, 2000 11:03 PM In my earlier posting I may have mentioned that Cellini got along all right with the pope but as I continued with the book I found out I was entirely wrong. If I am not mistaken the pope tried to do him in, get him executed for something or other. David, Autobiographies can also turn out to be a far cry from self enhancement or should we call it bragging. Just recently I finished reading The Education of Henry Adams. This man, more often than not questions his own abilities and achievements. He almost goes to the extreme and after finishing the book I happened to see a professional opinion to the effect that H.A. may be considered the greatest American historian. Then I recall autobiography by a Waugh one by an author whose name I forgot who wrote Under the Volcano which contain a good deal of self depreciation. So we come back to the old question: Was Cellini a grandiose liar or was that how people wrote in his age. This brings to mind that Burckhart in his major work on the Renaissance bases much of his knowledge on Cellini's work. Daniel, You are absolutely correct that necromancy had unpleasant consequences during the inquisition. People were executed for a lot less according to Jose Saramago in Baltasar and Blimunda. Yet Cellini, at least part of the time had the Pope's support and protection. My present reading leads to believe that Cellini was not only a first rate scoundrel besides being a superb artist. Yet some scoundrels have been known to write fascinating tales. Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (35 of 36), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2000 02:18 PM I am well over half done and into the home stretch on this one. It seems perfectly clear to me that we are dealing with a rogue and probably should take everything he says with a grain of salt. Obviously, the reason this man was able to survive to the age of seventy was that various powerful patrons valued his amazing talent so highly. Otherwise, he would have been just another dead, young street thug. Certainly, there are many aspects of his story that are perfectly verified. His banishment from Florence as a teenager for brawling is a fact. His revenge murder of Pompeo certainly did occur and resulted in his exile. (Notice that he intended to put his dagger into Pompeo's face but missed and stabbed him twice in the throat instead.) His imprisonment and injury when escaping are fact. The inevitable disputes that arose with those with whom he worked are factual. Superimposed on all this is the simple fact of his surviving work that we can ourselves see. This was an immensely talented hooligan who here delivers for us his self-justification late in life. And I must say that I find it rollicking good entertainment. I have been reading it hours at a stretch. STEVE
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (36 of 36), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2000 09:46 PM Steve, Your comments on Cellini, the thug, were very much to the point. It is truly remarkable how such enormous talent can be found in this type of person. (It would take a psychologist to figure that out). Whatever the reason, I found his writing fascinating and very fast and easy reading. I noted that there was a crisis most every day or chapter. People out to get him, the Castellan or Pope turning on him. People doing him in by telling lies or trying to knock him off. So far his love life has been the least interesting part of the story. Well he got the French Disease at one point. Could have happened to most anyone in those days. I am looking forward seeing you once more in Boston. How many years have passed since I first met you in San Francisco. Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (37 of 39), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000 09:47 AM Steve and Ernie: You remind me of my favorite quote in Cellini's autobiography, when the Pope is told of Cellini's altercation with Pompeo: "The Pope turned to him and replied: 'You don't understand the matter as much as I do. Men like Benvenuto, who are unique as far as their art is concerned, are not to be subjected to the law--especially not him, for I know what good cause he had." That's right, folks: The Pope decrees that Benvenuto is "not to be subjected to the law." So artists can put the pedal to the metal, stab and shoot people who are less than kind to them. As long as they produce viable art, the world is a better place. Who needs a Pompeo mussing things up anyway? Then of course that Pope dies and the new Pope is out to kill the artists with crushed diamonds. God I have grown to love this book. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (38 of 39), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000 10:09 AM Thanks for asking me a question that involves easy math, Ernie. It will have been precisely six years since we first met in San Francisco. As far as Cellini is concerned, Ernie, here's my view of the thing. If we were to demand that all our artists and creative people be saints, we wouldn't have much art and we wouldn't have much to read. These Renaissance Italians take this idea to the extreme, however. Dan, now we know that you cannot kill someone by feeding them ground glass or cheap gemstones. You must feed them ground diamonds if you want to get the job done. Amazing what you can learn through reading! This is at times kinda like reading "Hints from Heloise." STEVE
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (39 of 39), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000 04:17 PM Cellini seemed to provoke fights. Was it for exhibitionistic reasons? Was he self destructive or just plain mean. He did want to be the center of attention at all times and at all cost and force people like the king of France to come to HIM. Praise him, bribe him with money, etc. But his personality was not uncommon during the days of the Renaissance. Careful reading showed "Manipulation of others" over and over again. What a show off! Well CC would not have picked the book if he had acted like an ordinary artistic type. Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (40 of 43), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, May 11, 2000 02:08 PM Steve, I love the little details about the ground diamonds: They sit in the wall of the intestine and then when you eat more food the diamond shards are pushed by the food and puncture the intestinal lining and that's all she wrote. This was pretty in-depth anatomy for the times, I suppose. Cellini has a huge chip on his shoulder regarding respect and honor. Almost all of this altercations are because somebody "disses" him or his work. I'm not familiar enough with the times or the settings, but could Florentines at the time have been considered "provincial" or something? That is, we have the classic case of "country come to town" at work--a Florentine searching for acceptance and respect in the Roman world. Cellini does not enjoy the derision or snobbery of the Roman elite who believe they shit marble (to borrow from Amadeus). But I think of Micheangelo--he was Florentine also, right? Seems this weakens my point, since Michaeangelo's fame would have already paved the way for further Florentines to come forth. So I guess Cellini just had a nasty disposition. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (41 of 43), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 11, 2000 02:13 PM Dan: Michelangelo might strengthen your point. I read "The Agony and the Ecstasy" a few years ago, and seem to recall a similar theme. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (42 of 43), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Thursday, May 11, 2000 03:38 PM I think David may very well be right, Dan. Michelangelo does strengthen your point. The Roman blue bloods were interested in using these Florentine artists, not necessarily accepting them. It was certainly more pronounced than what we would consider simply "provincialism," I suspect. Remember that at that time there was no such country as Italy. Rather, this was a conglomeration of city-states and principalities. Therefore, in Rome a Florentine was like someone from a foreign country. We use the term "Renaissance Man" to denote someone skilled and knowledgeable in a wide range of arts and sciences. Obviously, the real deal could also slit one's throat quite handily, too. STEVE
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (43 of 43), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 11, 2000 05:56 PM During the Renaissance, the general attitude towards artists was not the same as it is today. Historically, artists were more often regarded as artisans, or skilled craftsmen. Someone you hired to do a specific job, such as roofing the house, installing a fountain, or painting the new altarpiece. In the Renaissance, this attitude still prevailed for the most part Even though we were beginning to get some real artist prima donnas, most artists were still hired to create certain things, often very prescribed as to content and style. This business of the artist being an inspired being, working from his soul, creating works that the public may or may not like, is a 19th century invention. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (44 of 46), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, May 12, 2000 12:40 PM David and Steve: Thanks a lot. Your information illuminates much of the apparent comraderie Cellini notes when he encounters a "Florentine" somewhere else, such as Paris. Probably because of the translation, there is that line Cellini uses in court when he is charged by his "French whore" that he sodomized her--"took her in the Italian fashion," to use the French euphemism: Then I said: "If I had intercourse with her in the Italian way, I would have done so only in my desire to have a son, in the same way as you do." "Then the judge replied: "She means that you did it by another way than the way for begetting children." To this I answered that such was not the Italian way, and that on the contrary it must be the French way, since she knew all about it and not I: and I said that I wanted her to explain exactly what I had done with her. Then that beastly whore without any shame said openly and clearly what was the filthy practice she accused me of. I made her repeat it three times in succession... Evidently, when outside the states of Italy completely, "Italy" and "Italians" carried certain connotations. In this passage, Cellini defends his nationality by trying to show the error in stereotyping Italian sexual practices. And I also thought the whole bit was hilarious. Ruth: Thank you. Your comments certainly elucidate the nature of Cellini's life--he was a master craftsman who was out for business from he richest patrons he could find. Yet, at time Cellini tells his patrons that he refuses to do his art certain ways--that it is not in line, that it would lack what he terms "significance." I think if we look at this autobiography close enough we would find in Cellini's prose the seeds of romanticism. This book contains incidents and insights which posit that the artist has rights that lower classes do not, that the best role for a noble is to lavish praise and money on artists. This is not far from the likes of Goethe, of Beethoven, of Byron. I recall the anecdote about Beethoven and a friend walking along a garden path. When a noble comes walking against them Beethoven remains on the path and forces the noble to get on the grass to pass. His friend is aghast at Beethoven, who then says that as an artist he is more nobler than any noble and people should make way for him rather than vice versa. One gets the impression that Cellini was not that far from Beethoven. For all his swordsplay and passion, Cellini is deeply devoted to his art. Reading his autobiography, one can only conclude it is the only thing that really ever mattered to him. He is, perhaps, the grandfather of the Romantic movement--or at least certainly influenced it immensely with his words. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (45 of 46), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, May 12, 2000 07:52 PM Dan, I don't know whether you offered these remarks intuitively or whether you have done some reading. Whatever, your remarks about Cellini being an early Romantic are right on the money. Back when I was a young, pretty history major, I took a semester course on the Renaissance followed by a semester course on the Reformation. These were the two most intense and fascinating history courses in which I ever participated. Your remarks about Romanticism rang a bell with me. We usually associate the Renaissance with a renewed interest in Greek and Roman culture, that is, Classicism. However, 19th Century Romanticism, which was in great part a revolt against Classicism and emphasized passion and the individual, took much of its inspiration from the artists of the Renaissance. One certainly cannot accuse Cellini of lacking in either passion or individualism. I am so proud of you. STEVE
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (46 of 46), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, May 13, 2000 07:42 AM But Dan, back to subject of anal intercourse for a second. Did you notice that the penalty for engaging in this was burning both the active and passive party? Seems a little harsh to me. I thoroughly enjoyed all these passages about the lawsuits. Tremendously entertaining. One of my favorites: I have always loved owning fine weapons, and the first man to use this one on was the leading spirit in that unjust lawsuit that was brought against me. One night I stabbed him so many times in the legs and arms (taking care, however, not to kill him) that I deprived him of the use of both his legs. Then I went after the fellow who had brought the suit, and notched him so effectively that he abandoned it. Ah, those were the good old days of litigation! His description of the practice of champerty at the time is very entertaining, too, followed as it is by his explanation of how it was a practice in Normandy to hire a bunch of witnesses to testify after they have purchased a lawsuit. Great stuff! STEVE
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (47 of 53), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, May 14, 2000 09:29 PM Steve: Just good fortune, thank you kindly. Ruth mentioned the difference between the "artist as craftsman" and the "artist has soul-tortured hero," and I couldn't help but notice that while Cellini is very proud of his craft, he also falls heavily into the latter category as well. He just seems like the type a Byron or Shelley would respect. Love the French history of litigation as well. Thanks for posting that passage about the way Cellini made his point with those attempting to sue him. And allow me to make a qualify my previous posts: Having come to the final pages of Cellini's autobiography, I must say that I renounce my earlier contentions that the man was simply a braggart without any merit. I now believe he is a braggart with a great deal of merit and he weaves a fascinating tapestry of Renaissance Rome and Paris. Whoever nominated this book, thank you very much. Mucho gracias. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (48 of 53), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 03:41 PM Dan, I could not agree with you more about the merits of the book and would add my congratulations to whoever suggested it for the reading list. As I am within a few pages from the end I have become a bit more tolerant in my attitude toward Cellini. He was many things to many people but foremost a great artist and renaissance man. He had many skills but one, namely he totally lacked "Insight" into his behavior and motivation. He just does not understand that he was responsible for many of the negative things that happened to him. Any negative comments on the part of the Duke or King he attributes it to manipulation on the part of his enemies. Unquestionably he had enemies but he probably helped it along by his enormous ego and competitiveness. Somewhere along the thread there was mention of Cellini being a precursor of "Romanticism" and that struck me as true. But unfortunately he also reminded me of a Renaissance version of the Perils of Pauline. Perhaps there are a few of our readers who are old enough to remember. His feelings and attitude toward women horrified me. He expresses some feelings for his sister and her 6 daughters and may have been generous with her. But how many times did he exploit and beat up women he had power over. Then it turns out that he considers most of the higher class women as enemies, traitors, liars, etc. As to his sexual appetites the less said the better. Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (49 of 53), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 04:10 PM Maybe one reason I threw in the towel on this one may have been that my library only had an abridged edition. (What can you expect from a place that keeps Gray's Anatomy out of sight?) Apparently I missed out on some of the more interesting stuff. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (50 of 53), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 05:23 PM I'm only up to page 100 (having misplaced my copy for awhile), but like Dan I am enjoying it more as I go along. The historical aspects really interest me. Life was extremely precarious in the days before modern medicine, wasn't it? Most of Benvenuto's family is wiped out by the plague, people suffer wounds and bleed to death, a girl has some kind of "bone infection"in her finger and the doctor files off part of the bone while she suffers in agony. In many cases, I think the doctors were worse than the disease. As an ex-Catholic, I can't help being more than a little scandalized{G} by the worldliness of Pope Clement and the other popes. They take their worldly glory a lot more seriously than their spiritual duties. I guess it can go to your head when you think you have been anointed by God. Two people nominated this book. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think both Robt and Edd were responsible for getting it on the list. Ann
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (51 of 53), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 05:36 PM Or was it, Pres? Come on guys, fess up. Ann
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (52 of 53), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 07:01 PM I fess down, but I do think it is a book you want to read if you want to understand the road that got us here, today. Pres
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (53 of 53), Read 3 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 10:59 PM I was one of the persons who nominated this book. I thought the other was RUTH. But I've been wrong before. Well, once. December of 1937. EDD
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (54 of 56), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Monday, May 15, 2000 11:44 PM It was I, Robt, feeling very Celliniesque, who nominated this book. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (55 of 56), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2000 12:41 AM My apologies ROBERT. Congratulations on our mutual taste. EDD
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (56 of 56), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2000 09:33 AM Ernie: Your final paragraph in your 5/15 post articulated my feelings exactly: Cellini was a misogynist. It's when he gives less than three sentences to the birth of his daughter--"Yes, I had a daughter and they took her away and did I tell you I was working on this wonderful statue...?" Fully cognizant it was probably the norm at the time, my heart still sank for such a poor autobiographical entry for what could have been Cellini's greatest work. Notice during his French trail he naturally says he has sexual intercourse to have sons--not daughters. As Ernie implies, it would seem Cellini has sex to experience power. The whole bit about gloating because he forced his French Whore to marry his lying assistant and then had sex with her just to enjoy placing horns on her "husband's" head was utterly ludicrous. For the master artist, he sure was childish when it came to matters of relationships and sex. I would close by saying I wish I could see that silver statue of Jupiter that disappeared (probably melted down for the silver later on). From Cellini's descriptions, it must have been a wonderful. And I'll add my thanks formally now: Thanks Robert and Edd. This was a great classic I'm so glad I had the chance to experience. You da' men. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (57 of 63), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@pacbell.net) Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 07:22 PM Congratulations once more to R9bert and Edd who nominated Cellini. It offered an important picture of the Renaissance, the people, customs and art. Ann was amazed at the doings of some of the Cardinals and Popes. Their actions were related to the strength of the Protestant revolt. However you expect some of the actions of the part of the courtiers and kings. We are lucky that presidents always upheld the highest moral standards, even in our days!!! The other aspects of the book that is truly fascinating is the behavior self description of Cellini. I looked up Cellini in a literary Encyclopedia. He was described as a better writer than artist. But it also showed a picture of the famous Salt Shaker and I have to admit that it is a fantastic work of art. According to the Encyclopedia Cellini's grossly exaggerated his artistic accomplishments. Yes he should be considered one of the most important writers of the Renaissance in that he let us know about the society and the people of his time. So we can forgive him for a bit of psychopathology as well as behavioral pathology as well. Dale Short is so right when he tells us that the best writers weren't always the most normal or sane people. Ernie
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (58 of 63), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 11:54 PM Dan and Ernie, Thank you for the acknowledgements. I'm delighted you have enjoyed this book. I have, too. Edd, You've got great taste. {G} Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (59 of 63), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, May 18, 2000 07:59 AM Ernie: You're right--as you become immersed in Cellini's world you start to believe that his art is the pinnacle of success whereas the art of his competition was full of flaws. I did visit a site a week ago which had images of the fabulous Salt Cellar (which is on the cover of my Penguin edition) as well as the Perseus, which Cellini spends an inordinate amount of time describing its production. However--and Ruth or Robert or anyone else can correct me if I'm wrong--I was under the impression that Cellini was a major force in the bringing out of a new style, a style a little more realistic. There was a point where Cellini bashes the work of another artist--the Hercules. Here I thought Cellini was illustrating, as he does throughout his work, that while a knowledge of antiquity is crucial, one must still strive to perfect the work of the ancients. Since I love Cellini's opening sentence against the Hercules, I'll quote it at length. What a opening verbal barrage--I would never ask Cellini to critique my work. The expert school of Florence says that if Hercules' hair were shaven off there wouldn't be enough of his pate to hold in his brain; and that one can't be sure whether his face is that of a man or a cross between a lion and an ox; that it's not looking the right way; and that it's badly joined to the neck, so clumsily and unskillfully that nothing worse has ever been seen, and that his ugly shoulders are like the two pommels of an ass's pack-saddle; that his breasts and the rest of his muscles aren't based on a man's but are copied from a great sack full of melons, set upright against a wall. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (60 of 63), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Thursday, May 18, 2000 08:25 AM Dan: Other than those minor flaws, how did Cellini like "Hercules"? I wish he'd been a bit more plain-spoken.{G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (61 of 63), Read 22 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 18, 2000 09:43 AM Dan, Cellini is mentioned in most general art history texts, but he's not given a lot of space. He's not regarded as a major innovator. Some people put him in with the Mannerists, a late Renaissance group which took the work of the Renaissance greats and expanded on the look of it, if not the soul, often exaggerating body shape and postures. He's regarded as a master craftsmen, whose work is sometimes a little too refined. Certainly, to make it into a textbook which covers all of art history does mean he achieved a certain excellence in the eyes of the historians, but he's not generally one of the real biggies. I know I gave him short shrift in my course. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (62 of 63), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, May 18, 2000 03:18 PM But Ruth: If you had read all of Cellini, would it have changed your focus on the Mannerists? Wouldn't this autobiography have provided you with some insight into the nature of the Renaissance artists? I'm just curious but well aware of your aversion to Cellini's work. Like Robert, I feel as if I've learned about a whole new world of art I never even remotely conceived. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (63 of 63), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 18, 2000 04:28 PM It very well may have, Dan. But too late now, I'm off to other reads. Actually, though, what I was reporting to you in the note above, was not my own opinion of Cellini, but how most general Art History Texts present him. I don't particularly like his work. But I'm lukewarm about a lot of Renaissance work. Everybody always has their favorites, and mine are Medieval and Modern. But my like or dislike for Renaissance art in general or Cellini's work in particular, is neither here nor there when considering his place in Art History. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (63 of 67), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, May 19, 2000 07:33 AM I must post one final anecdote by Cellini. This one floored me--I've heard of artists vying for money and power, but this incident is surely one of the strangest: Then, one morning or other, I had just heard Mass when the broker Bernardo, a shocking goldsmith and--because of the Duke's kindness--the purveyor to the Mint, passed in front of me. This was in San Piero Scheraggio. He was hardly through the door of the church when the filthy pig let loose four cracks which could have been heard from San Miniato. I cried out: 'You whimpering pig, you beast! Is that what your filthy talents sound like?' And I ran for a stick. He made off into the Mint, and I stood just inside my own door, stationing one of my young boys outside to give me the word when the pig should come out of the Mint. After I had waited for some time I lost patience and my anger subsided; and then remembering that anything can happen in a fight and that this affair might lead somewhere unexpected, I decided to take my revenge some other way. All this took place within a day or so of the feast of St. John, so I composed a verse and stuck it up in the corner of the church where one goes for a piss or a shit: Here's Bernardo, pig and mule, The thievish broker, and the spy: From him Pandora's evils fly Into booby-Baccio, the other fool. Some things never really change? Cellini is not beneath writing nasty messages on the bathroom wall and on the wall of the church at that. Contemporary Christian values in practice, no doubt. I'll close with this statement by the narrator of Vonnegut's Galapagos: And people still laugh about as much as they ever did, despite their shrunken brains. If a bunch of them are lying around the beach, and one of them farts, everybody else laughs and laughs, just as people would have done a million years ago. Except Cellini, of course--he would have gone for a stick. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (64 of 67), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Friday, May 19, 2000 08:26 AM Sounds like the guy had like, you know, impulse-control issues. The Chilbained Lawyer
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (65 of 67), Read 23 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, May 19, 2000 09:11 AM If they ever made this book into a movie, Arnold Schwartzeneger would be a good choice for the lead. It could be his kind of move--lots of action, lots of fights against incredible odds, etc. etc. Ann
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (66 of 67), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, May 19, 2000 09:29 AM Ann: LOL. Yes, Ahnold would be great as Cellini. "For you, little artist, I am Malvenuto." Of course, how could you shoot the "four cracks" scene "seriously?" Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (67 of 67), Read 4 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, May 21, 2000 09:01 PM Dan! Dan! Your final anecdote? Please. I had been delayed in finishing the final 75 pages or so for a few days and just finished them. In spite of all the braggadocio--or "rodomantade" as the introduction says (gosh, I love that word!)--this really turned out to be quite a ride and finished with a flourish. I refer here to the casting of the statue of Perseus. Whew! I don't know how one could read about the fever, beating the help, bringing in the oak logs, fighting the fire on the roof, madly throwing the pewter into the furnace, and the furnace starting to burst without feeling at least a little charge of adrenaline. Steve
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (68 of 68), Read 6 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 08:43 AM Steve: Ever since reading Cellini's autobiography, I have been delving into Renaissance art books. Turns out Cellini's colleagues--the clowns the Duke or Pope should never, ever allow near bronze, gold, or marble--were outstanding artists in their own right. I saw the Perseus in sundry books and it is a captivating statue. Quite gory, actually. I love the spiraling blood and entrails spewing from the severed neck. And the fact that Perseus is standing on the cracked torso so nonchalantly holding the head aloft. But most surprising--but not when seen in light of Cellini's boasting--was the fact that Cellini carved his name in a sash across the chest of the statue. I find it rather ludicrous--here's "Perseus" and "Medusa," but the sash says "Benvenuto Cellini." Again, I wonder if Cellini wasn't creating a statue that really represented himself and his feelings towards the "Medusa-types" who would work against him and his art. The statue being, in this case, a kind of personal expression. I did read somewhere that many artisans during Cellini's time would create statues to personally please themselves and would then give them Classical names to pass them off as "works of significance." The text I read stated that The Rape of the Sabine Women was just such a statue. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (70 of 71), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 11:01 AM Voila! Cellini's Perseus One of the things often said of Cellini's work is that even in full-scale sculpture he retained the approach of a small-scale craftsman displayed so well in the famous Salt Cellar. I think we can see this in the Perseus: the exaggerated curves of the body that echo the curves of the hair, and and the stuff coming from the neck (I doubt it's entrails, Dan, entrails are nowhere near the neck), the curve of the sword, the curve of the wings on the helmet--the piece is all curves and prettiness, almost dainty, despite its gory subject. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (71 of 71), Read 8 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 11:25 AM Which Rape of the Sabine Women are you talking about, Dan? I never heard that story. There are dozens of RSWs out there. I've often thought they were done at least in part for the very reasons you cite. What reference book are you using? There's another story, not about Cellini, but it relates to your hypothesis about artists painting what they wanted and then titling works with "proper" names. But first, let me say that this would be difficult to pull off very often. For the most part in those days, artists worked on commission, and a sculptor especially needed those advance fees to buy material. That said, there's no reason not to believe they interpreted the subject to please themselves, as much as possible, always considering that they still had to please the guy with the pocketbook. Anyway, back to my story. It's about Veronese. In the late 16th century he painted a huge Last Supper. It offended everyone. Too much splendor and pageantry, too many unsavory characters--soldiers, dwarfs, a man picking his teeth. In his own defense, Veronese made a statement that art historians consider to be an unheard of idea for the times: "We painters take the same license as the poets and jesters take...I paint pictures as I see fit and as well as my talent permits." Upshot of it was, Veronese was told to change the painting. He didn't. He changed the title. It's now known as Feast in the House of Levi. And here it is.
Feast of Levi
(Larger view: 1000x429) Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (72 of 75), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 03:52 PM Ruth: I believe the sculptor was Giambologna that the article mentioned--the fellow who did a Rape of the Sabine Women with three people: One nude lady held high like a trophy by a victorious rapist and another fellow being knocked down to the ground. The author of the work--I forgot his name--stated the scene did not come off as a "rape" but more as a "Gee everybody, look how good this woman looks naked? I'm going to hold her nice and high so everyone can see." And Ruth--you're right. I should have held off on "entrails" when it was obvious he had pulled out a large part of Medusa's spinal column with the severed head. I just like that word: entrails. Steve: I'm not sure why Cellini would not mention the fact that his Perseus resembled himself. I realize "modesty" would not be a satisfactory reason. Did the Duke ask for a Perseus statue specifically or did Cellini suggest that the piazza needed one? I think--without looking back--that doing a Perseus was Cellini's idea. In which case, Cellini would have been choosing a subject which echoed how he saw himself: A swashbuckling man giving hell to evil women everywhere. Look at that sword--the sword which appears again and again within the autobiography. Look at the sash across the chest blazoned with his own name. Where does the statue say "Perseus" anyway? I'm going to look into this and see if any art historians or critics can back me up that Cellini's Perseus is indeed autobiographical. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (73 of 75), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 04:36 PM Dan: The Duke asked for a Perseus (p.314 of the Penguin edition, translated by Bull): "He [the Duke] answered that all he wanted as my first work for him was a Perseus, he had been wanting this for a long time..." According to a note on p.439: "The total height of all the sculptured surface--the Perseus, the base with its beautifully modeled figures (now in the Museo Nazaionale of the Bargello) and the bronze narrative relief of Perseus rescuing Andromeda--is about 600 cm." I don't know if that refers to the whole statue or just the base. By the way, 600 cm. would be about 20 feet. David
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (74 of 75), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 06:02 PM That's the one I was thinking of, Dan. Voila encore..
Rape of the Sabine Women
And Dan, I've always harbored a sneaking suspicion about those rape paintings/sculptures. Good excuse to paint nekkid ladies in contorted positions. I saw the Rape in Florence in 1978, and I think I saw the Perseus there at the same time. Giambologna was a Mannerist sculptor, same classification Cellini is often dropped into. Has to do with twisted postures, often elongated proportions, exaggerated poses. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (75 of 75), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 09:03 PM Ruth, Thanks for the sculpture pictures. That last one is quite sexy. Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (76 of 78), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 08:19 AM Dan, your developing enthusiasm is contagious. I thought I would mention one other thing, for what it's worth to you. Should you ever be motivated to do more reading on this whole subject, take a look at The Civilization of Renaissance Italy by Jacob Burckhardt. This is a history that was published in 1860, but it is so good that it continues to be a standard text on the subject in college courses. Very entertaining reading, and one can jump around in it. It is available in a Penguin Classics paperback edition. And yes, Benvenuto is in there. As may be obvious, my favorite scene in the whole book was the casting of Perseus. I have a question. What purpose was served by madly throwing all that pewter into the molten metal? Did I miss something in the text that explained this? Reasoning from a very weak scientific background, I concluded that since the bronze was caking on the top and not completely molten, perhaps the addition of the pewter with a lower melting point acted to cause the whole mix to attain a lower melting point. You think I'm on the right track there? Steve
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (77 of 78), Read 10 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 09:11 AM Ruth: Thanks a bunch. Your explanation of the Mannerists (and I realize you have been defining them for a while) has finally sunk into my mind. The "exaggeration" of manners. If I recall my survey of art correctly, the Egyptians kept their figures boxed in and it was the Greeks who began to carve and cast free-standing sculpture. Medieval artisans tended to avoid elaborate sculpture (correct me if I'm incorrect) aside for some friezes and such. Cellini came onto the Renaissance scene near the end, just before things went Baroque. Or something like that. David: Yes, the translator/annotator of my Penguin version noted that many consider Cellini's Perseus as second only to Mickey's David in scope and execution. One thing that seriously bothers me with the net and artbooks is the failure to establish a sense of scale when reproducing these statues. I've seen photographs of people standing near David and the size is incredible. 6 meters of Perseus would also be something to behold. And David, thanks for setting me straight. Isn't it ironic that the Duke wanted a statue of the Mythic hero Cellini would most likely identify as being like himself? That's one of the reasons I would love to see the lost silver statue of Jupiter. Even taking into account Cellini's boasting, it would probably be something to behold since I'm sure Cellini could identify with Jupiter just as well as Perseus. Steve: I will procure a copy of Jacob Burckhardt's book for this summer. I am also getting a copy of the book David (or was it Robert?) mentioned earlier, The Agony and the Ecstasy. Due to rising costs, I cannot procure an art book. The best I've seen runs 98 dollars--a bit out of my league for books, I'm afraid. And, people: That's a slightly used edition! I know why, I know why, but still I must rhetorically state: Why are art books so damn expensive? And then state: Thank God for the Internet and Ruth's archive. And Steve: Realizing the role of chemistry within casting, I must admit I couldn't follow Cellini's frenzied description of the process much less corroborate your reasons. I believe you are right about the pewter inflecting the melting point, but if I recall correctly Cellini was concerned about blemishes and such at that point. I'll look over the section again and report back tomorrow. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (78 of 78), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 09:35 AM Daniel -- another reco on The Agony and the Ecstasy here and this is an author whose works I tend to recommend anyway -- historical based and informative novels which are good reading -- once you try this one -- look for others. Dottie -- eavesdropping on Cellini since life interrupted her participation on this one ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (79 of 80), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 10:53 AM Art books are so damn expensive because they have so many damn color plates. Most of the big general Art History texts are in the price range you cite, but that should be hardback. Most of them also come in two-volume paperback form. That's what I told my students to buy. Stokstad's is a good one. Janson is widely used. Gardner is "the Bible", very widely used. Hart is well-written and treats heavily of the Renaissance. Can't say as I thought much of the A&E. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (80 of 80), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 07:24 AM Thanks Ruth. I have the Janson work--that was the text for the survey course I took ever so long ago. In fact, I recall other students complaining that the text was so expensive. I was giddy--I had to buy the text. And I kept it ever since. While I love the color plates and such, I find that Janson, in undertaking to give a history of art from human birth to human contemporaneity, has to be brief in his comments on art movements and the major artists involved. Seems good artists get maybe six paragraphs, peripheral ones get one. Cellini, if I recall, received two or three paragraphs. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (81 of 84), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 10:39 AM Dan, one of the best perks of teaching was that I often got free textbooks. They would just show up in my mailbox from publishers who wanted me to adopt them for one of my courses. So I have all the books I mentioned. I used Gardner, actually it's not Gardner any more, it's Gardner's Art Through the Ages by Tansy and Kleiner. But if I were teaching today, I'd use Stokstad. Very readable. Some years back, Janson received a certain amount of notoriety for not mentioning a single woman in the entire book. There are women in it now, but not many. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (82 of 84), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 02:43 PM Right, Ruth: And I possess many great Chemistry texts in anyone is interested. They have color pictures, too. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (83 of 84), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 04:10 PM Any Rape of the Sulfur Molecules? Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (84 of 84), Read 13 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 06:09 PM Ruth - Is that what happens when you have a migraine ? Pres, who wishes you healthy.
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (83 of 86), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Friday, May 26, 2000 11:37 AM With all due respect, Ruth: The Rape of the Sulfur Molecules? That really stinks. Dan
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (84 of 86), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 26, 2000 01:44 PM Well it wouldn't have stunk, if the sulfur maidens hadn't been attacked by those uncivilized hydrogen molecules. Ruth, promising to leave quietly
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (85 of 86), Read 8 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Friday, May 26, 2000 07:54 PM Piazza della Signoria Piazza della Signoria I returned last weekend from a two-week vacation to Tuscany, that included visits (much too short) to the cities of Florence and Siena. I took Cellini's autobiography with me and read as much of it as I could on my very full trip. I loved Italy and I loved the book, which I finished after my return. It was wonderful how they came together in my life. The sad news is (and I have been roundly scolded by Steve already, so please don't rub it in) that I sat, eating gelato at the end of a long day of sightseeing in Florence, on the steps of the Loggia dei Lanza in the Piazza della Signoria, not more than 50 feet from Cellini's Perseus, and I DIDN'T KNOW IT! I looked at it, scanning, but I didn't SEE it. My view was of several other sculptures in the Piazza that were mentioned in the Autobiography -- Ammannati's Neptune Fountain (rather ugly, really) and Michelangelo's David (the reproduction that stands where the original, now indoors, once stood). And, I was entirely too distracted by the very young, dark, and handsomely uniformed (in black and red) Italian police -- the 'carabinieri,' who pack SERIOUS visible weaponry, and who were settling some sort of disturbance in the middle of the Piazza. I have spent a good portion of every day since my return scheming about my earliest possible return to Italy. The visible history is stunning and absolutely overwhelming. I could actually feel my heart rate accelerate in the presence of some of this Renaissance work. You can stop on almost any street or piazza in Florence and by mentally 'removing' today's tourists and citizens, place yourself squarely in the 16th century. Since when has there been so much concern (and money) for the creation of beautiful objects?! (Yes, I know from Cellini it was mostly about acquisition and power, but today acquisition and power don't seem to lead us to any where near this sort of display of beauty.) I think the Autobiography is a treasure, egoism and all, especially when read with the notes that fill in what Cellini decided not to mention. Like his marriage! I have to agree with the comment someone made above, that it isn't bragging if you've done it. And, in this case, 'it' is still standing nearly 5,000 years later. Sara
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (86 of 86), Read 3 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 26, 2000 10:41 PM I'm so jealous, Sara. Florence is my favorite Italian city. Did you go to the Ufizzi? Did you find the scarf I lost there in 1976? Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (86 of 103), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 07:05 AM Sara, I made Tom climb to the top of Bruneleschi's dome with me. I had studied the cathedral in a History of Architecture class and have some sort of indescribable attraction to it. It was like time travel to walk inside the wall stairs that led to the top of the lantern. Let's you and me and Ruth (and whoever wants) go back to Florence some day. But now you've made me realize I have to finish this damn book. Sherry
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (87 of 103), Read 33 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 07:37 AM Please, Divina. ". . .roundly scolded. . . ?" Never! Someone around here might take you seriously. Let's be more accurate. When I heard you overlooked Perseus, I bashed my forehead against the wall plaster until my eyes rolled back and knees buckled, dropped to the floor pounding the carpet, and dissolved into uncontrollable weeping. But scold? Never! It wasn't your fault. I understand exactly how this happened. I can well imagine that the sight of young, swarthy, Italian males, very much alive, would draw your attention away from the stone and marble works of the dead around you. Actually, I would love to see this huge crucifix with Christ "in snow-white marble on a cross of the blackest marble. . .it stands as high as a tall living man." Apparently, it hangs in the Church of the Annunziata above Cellini's own tomb. I'll tell you! If I had been caught there with a group like the one you were with, I would have disappeared. There would have been a little cloud of dust where I used to be. They might have seen me next at the boarding gate for the return trip. I wouldn't have cared who had paid the tab. Of course this captures a personality difference of ours, doesn't it? By the way. . . .5,000 years? I've run the calculator on this a couple of times, and I think the math on that is wrong. . .unless I am misunderstanding something. Steve
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (88 of 103), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 08:39 AM Baptistry Doors Ghiberti's Baptistry Doors Sherry, With the time I had, and the overwhelmed state of my mind in Florence, I thought it best not to take that climb. I was pretty content to just stand under Brunelleschi's Dome and look up. One of my favorite things were the Ghiberti doors on the Babtistry next to the Duomo, which the photo above does little justice. Ruth, No, I didn't make the Uffizi on this trip. The group chose the Duomo, the Babtistry, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and the Galleria dell'Accademia to visit on our day trip. I'll have to check on your scarf the next time. Steve, Your calculator's working much better than mine this week. But then it hasn't been to Italy!! I have performed the edit. Sara
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (89 of 103), Read 25 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 09:04 AM Sara - Good to have you back! Reino and I went to Italy in the Summer of 1998. We visited Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. It was the best trip I have ever taken! Who can effectively scrutinize artworks while enjoying an Italian gelato??! The lemon gelato reliably sent me into an absolute trance. Did you get out to Fra Angelico's monastery while you were in Florence? I think that was my favorite sight. There is a good little museum, but the best part is the paintings he did on the walls of the monastery cells for use in meditation. Bea, who missed you for CFCR
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (90 of 103), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 11:22 AM Sherry, I'd have loved to go up in that dome, but it was closed when we were there. Since you studied it, I'm sure you know that when the cathedral was built the dome was planned with such an enormous span that nobody could figure out how to engineer it. That is until Bruneleschi came along, and made a dome with two different shells, an interior and an exterior. I've heard there are chains between them, and some pretty ingenious brickwork. Did you get to see any of that? Sara, did they tell you about the contest for the job of making those baptistry doors? The finalists were Ghiberti and Bruneleschi. Ghiberti's work is credited with being one of the first in the Early Renaissance to really establish a unified conception of figures and the space that they exist in. Ruth, getting down from the podium
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (91 of 103), Read 35 times, 1 File Attachment Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 11:52 AM Ruth, Yes, I saw a lot of the brickwork, but I don't remember any chains. It was my impression that it was never fully understood how the dome was built. I saw a show on TV a couple of years ago, where there was a modern contest trying to replicate how Bruneleschi may have achieved it. Here is a view from the lantern of the Duomo. The doors Sara is talking about are at the bottom of the Campanille. Sherry
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (92 of 103), Read 36 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 12:15 PM I loved the hell out of that brickwork myself. They had recently cleaned up about half of the cathedral facade when I saw it. It was amazingly colorful -- all red, white and green, unlike the pictures I had seen in my books. But you could still see parts that still showed what century of grime did to it. They have a pretty neat museum of the Duomo around there somewhere, where you can see the models submitted in the competition for the doors. Bea
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (93 of 103), Read 39 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 12:19 PM Lest anyone be confused, the doors are near the bottom of the Campanile, but they're on the baptistry. Italian cathedrals of this time were almost always a 3 part complex: the cathedral proper, the campanile (bell tower) and the baptistry. (The leaning tower of Pisa, is really the campanile for the Pisa cathedral) Nice picture, Sherry, did you take it? Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (94 of 103), Read 44 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 12:24 PM Yes, I took it, Ruth. And when I wrote that about the doors, I had second thoughts. I thought I had a picture of the doors, but after some searching I didn't find them. I know they're here some place. Incredible detail. You could spend hours looking at them. Sherry
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (95 of 103), Read 43 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 12:44 PM Here's a shot of the whole complex. You can see Brunelleschi's dome in the back. The facade of the cathedral is 19th century. The campanile is by Giotto. And the baptistry is in the foreground. Too bad we can't see any of the sets of doors. There are 4 of them. But Sara has posted a picture of one set back up a way. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (96 of 103), Read 42 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 12:58 PM Here's another shot of one set of doors. Looks like it's in the middle of restoration. But it will give you some idea of the scale. And if you can bear with me. Here's Brunelleschi's entry in the contest for the doors, followed by Ghiberti's. They both represent the sacrifice of Isaac. And finally, an example of what I meant when I talked about how Ghiberti's later work on the doors integrates figures and deep space. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (97 of 103), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 03:07 PM Ruth and Sherry, Thanks for posting these pictures! Robt
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (98 of 103), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 07:10 PM Michelangelo's Pieta (unfinished) Bea, the museum you spoke of is the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. What a great, small museum! It now contains the original restored panels of the Ghiberti doors. The Baptistry doors that are outside in the elements now contain reproductions. It also contains Michelangelo's late Pieta, one that was unfinished at his death. The Duomo is still being cleaned, but most of it is completed and the colors looked quite fresh to me. Ruth & Sherry, I looked up Brunelleschi's Dome in my guide book and it mentions that there are 463 steps to the top and that, once up there, one can see an inner shell that provides a platform for the timbers that support the outer shell. It says that the dome was completed without scaffolding -- that is was set in a self-supporting herringbone pattern of varying size bricks, a technique copied from the Pantheon. Okay, my question to you all is this: What has happened between Cellini's time and ours that makes us now almost always look for the cheapest ways to complete buildings that are essentially rectangular and without decorative detail? Or am I wrong about this? Sara
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (99 of 103), Read 29 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 07:37 PM Sara -- an excellent question which has recently been haunting me -- i can't recall what it was which last brought this to mind but -- I think it may have been the huge library in Leuven which was built from American donations from colleges and group to rebuild this immense library after the war -- blocks and column heads engraved with names -- Case (Cleveland, OH) and Mills College(CA) and Am Assoc of Univ Women are all around the building which is currently undergoing restoration -- it is lovely and grand and ornate and used and loved -- are we not capable of these things still? We have great architects works going up -- are they today's classics which will last through the ages? Some certainly won't due to corner cutting etc -- glad I stopped in to see what exploded onto the CC scene! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (100 of 103), Read 30 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 10:29 PM My first reaction, Sara, is to say that time happened. Tastes change. The Bauhaus happened. Sullivan ("form should follow function") happened. And now, Post-Modernism, and the revival of ornament has happened. But certainly not to tax-supported institutions. Ruth
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (101 of 103), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Edd Houghton (eddh@pacbell.net) Date: Saturday, May 27, 2000 11:18 PM SARA, RUTH Part of the answer is the advances in building materials. Notably pre-stressed concrete. Before the advent of steel, embedded in the concrete to take tension loads, the buildings had to be designed to take only compression loads. The circular domes pretty much took care of this, except in the corners. There, they generally placed little towers, whose weight counteracted the tension stresses induced by bending. There was a great little article in Scientific American sometime in the 70's or 80's using photoelastic models. EDD whose memory is usually half right. Matching his rear.
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (102 of 103), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, May 28, 2000 01:08 AM Leave it to the engineer. I think I've got slides of some of those diagrams in my lecture notes, Edd. Or maybe something like it. Ruth, with another half a memory
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (103 of 103), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, May 28, 2000 12:53 PM Ooops. The slides I have from Sci Am are about the dome of the Pantheon, and the engineering involved there. Especially about whether or not the coffered ceiling is purely decorative, or if it serves to lighten the load on the walls. Ruth, who, when lecturing about architectural engineering, tried real hard to sound like she knew what she was talking about even tho she was on shaky ground
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (104 of 105), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Monday, May 29, 2000 11:26 AM Shaky scaffolding ? Pres
Topic: MAY: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (105 of 105), Read 2 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 29, 2000 11:32 AM Groooooooooooooan. Ruth
 
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