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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


IN my anxiety that nothing should go wrong, I sent for two hand-labourers to clear my garden of rubbish. They came from Ponte Vecchio, the one an old man of sixty years, the other a young fellow of eighteen. After employing them about three days, the lad told me that the old man would not work, and that I had better send him away, since, beside being idle, he prevented his comrade from working. The little I had to do there could be done by himself, without throwing money away on other people. The youth was called Bernardino Mannellini, of Mugello. When I saw that he was so inclined to labour, I asked whether he would enter my service, and we agreed upon the spot. He groomed my horse, gardened, and soon essayed to help me in the workshop, with such success that by degrees he learned the art quite nicely. I never had a better assistant than he proved. Having made up my mind to accomplish the whole affair with this man’s aid, I now let the Duke know that Bandinello was lying, and that I could get on famously without his workpeople.

Just at this time I suffered slightly in the loins, and being unable to work hard, I was glad to pass my time in the Duke’s wardrobe with a couple of young goldsmiths called Gianpagolo and Domenico Poggini, who made a little golden cup under my direction. It was chased in bas-relief with figures and other pretty ornaments, and his Excellency meant it for the Duchess to drink water out of. He furthermore commissioned me to execute a golden belt, which I enriched with gems and delicate masks and other fancies. The Duke came frequently into the wardrobe, and took great pleasure in watching me at work and talking to me. When my health improved, I had clay brought, and took a portrait of his Excellency, considerably larger than life-size, which I modelled while he stayed with me for pastime. He was highly delighted with this piece, and conceived such a liking for me that he earnestly begged me to take up my working quarters in the palace, selecting rooms large enough for my purpose, and fitting them up with furnaces and all I wanted, for he greatly enjoyed watching the processes of art. I replied that this was impossible; I should not have finished my undertakings in a hundred years.