Benvenuto Cellini. Who was he?

He was a 16th century goldsmith, sculptor and writer from Italy. He was the son of a musician and he dabbled in music as well.

In fact, he played the cornett and was even appointed as one of the pope’s court musicians.

Like other artists we’ve written about, Cellini should be famous because of his art. Sadly, that isn’t necessarily the case.

He is a famous artist, but is also an infamous murderer. This, leads me to, once again, ponder the connection between art, creativity and crime. 



Before you  assume he’s a bad guy because I called him a murderer, I have a confession. The first two murders, according to Cellini himself, led to him being considered ‘brave’ by the Pontiff (the Pope) himself.

The next death at the hands of Cellini might be considered “justifiable” as well.

From Cellini’s autobiography, he states that In 1529, his brother Cecchino was killed by a Corporal of the Roman Watch. In this battle, Cecchino was only injured, but ultimately died.

In pure rage and anger, Cellini then went and murdered the Corporal.  The chilling part is, Cellini agreed that the Corporal, who killed his brother, was acting in self-defense.

Makes the Corporal’s death seem like murder to me. 



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I wish I could say Cellini’s murderous, criminal ways stopped at this point.

He was accused of sodomy by a woman and embezzlement as well. Because he had a connection with the Pope, Cellini was pardoned for some of his crimes.

You know what they say, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. Pardoned! Multiple murders and he was pardoned.

It was Scarlett Johansson who said, “It’s important for people to figure out their own lives before involving someone else – to gauge where you are and work on your own issues.” 

Too bad Cellini didn’t get that message and too bad for all the lives lost at his hand. 

People hated Cellini and he ultimately did serve time in prison.

While there, sometime in 1539, Cellini was the target of an assassination attempt of murder by ingestion of diamond dust. Luckily for Cellini, the attempt failed because a non diamond gem was used instead.

Had Cellini been well loved and respected, I don’t think this attempt would have happened, do you? 



We can look into Cellini and his actions and make all the judgments we want but his art speaks for itself. The Nymph of Fontainebleau is beautifully sculpted in bronze.

Sometimes, I write about criminals who wanted to be artists but this week… I’m not sure?

Cellini was a true artist with an endless amount of talent. The question becomes, which was his “claim to fame”?

Is he an artist who murdered or a murderer who created art? 

Comment below and let me know your thoughts?

Were Cellini’s murders justified and heroic? Or, was the attempt on his life justified?

Either way,  Cellini was a talented artist with a pretty interesting story to tell.

And tell he did! 


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@mommyofautism

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