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Homines non nascuntur, sed figuntur: Benvenuto Cellini's Vita and Self-Presentation of the Renaissance Artist

Victoria C. Gardner
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 28, No. 2 (Summer, 1997), pp. 447-465
DOI: 10.2307/2543453
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2543453
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Homines non nascuntur, sed figuntur: Benvenuto Cellini's Vita and Self-Presentation of the Renaissance Artist
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Abstract

Benvenuto Cellini's Vita has been interpreted as the isolated self-portrait of a fiercely independent and somewhat unstable Renaissance artist since its publication in the eighteenth century. Cellini's deceptively conversational and casual narrative voice has contributed to this impression. The Vita is, however, far from artless. Cellini's style masks his carefully calculated self-presentation, which was based on the authoritative precedent of Giorgio Vasari's contemporary Lives of the Artists. Following Vasari's evolutionary model of artistic development, Cellini crafted his autobiography to position himself as the ultimate artist in this tradition. This article examines the Vita both as Cellini's quest for personal immortality and as an agent in the changing role of the artist in Renaissance society.

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