Home  »  Autobiography  »  LXIX

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


IT happened on one feast-day that I went to the palace after dinner, and when I reached the clockroom, I saw the door of the wardrobe standing open. As I drew nigh it, the Duke called me, and after a friendly greeting said: “You are welcome! Look at that box which has been sent me by my lord Stefano of Palestrina. Open it, and let us see what it contains.” When I had opened the box, I cried to the Duke: “My lord, this is a statue in Greek marble, and it is a miracle of beauty. I must say that I have never seen a boy’s figure so excellently wrought and in so fine a style among all the antiques I have inspected. If your Excellency permits, I should like to restore it—head and arms and feet. I will add an eagle, in order that we may christen the lad Ganymede. It is certainly not my business to patch up statues, that being the trade of botchers, who do it in all conscience villainously ill; yet the art displayed by this great master of antiquity cries out to me to help him.” The Duke was highly delighted to find the statue so beautiful, and put me a multitude of questions, saying: “Tell me, Benvenuto, minutely, in what consists the skill of this old master, which so excites your admiration.” I then attempted, as well as I was able, to explain the beauty of workmanship, the consummate science, and the rare manner displayed by the fragment. I spoke long upon these topics, and with the greater pleasure because I saw that his Excellency was deeply interested.