TitleBenvenuto Cellini's Vita
NameSisler, Mary E. (author), Baldi, Andrea (chair), White, Laura (internal member), Marsh, David (internal member), Weinapple, Fiorenza (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Sculptors--Italy--Biography--History and criticism,
Biography as literary form,
Cellini, Benvenuto, 1500-1571--Criticism and interpretation,
Cellini, Benvenuto, 1500-1571. Vita--Criticism and interpretation
DescriptionIn examining Benvenuto Cellini's Vita, it was my objective to demonstrate that the artist resolutely set out to 'cast' his own life as the model of the consummate Renaissance man. An essential goal of Cellini's literary self-portrait was to create a demonstration piece of the artist's proficiency as a letterato. Previous studies of Cellini's autobiography have generally accepted at face value the author's claim to have dictated the Vita to a young boy while working in his bottega. Acceptance of this declaration has led to an underestimation of the author's level of preparation and inventiveness. It was concluded that Cellini's dictation claim was part of a narrative strategy with at least two objectives: 1) to demonstrate mastery of the Castiglionesque art of sprezzatura by depicting the artist as one who could nonchalantly recount the story of his life while simultaneously creating works of art; and 2) to circumvent the harsh criticism of those, like Vincenzo Borghini, who publicly derided him for his efforts to prove himself as a letterato.
Using an interdisciplinary approach that included the studies of Renaissance historians, art historians and literary critics, this study found that Cellini incorporated many of the same attributes ascribed to Castiglione's perfetto cortegiano in the fashioning of his own Renaissance man in the Vita. It was also concluded that Benedetto Varchi's Lezzioni of 1547, particularly his treatment of the ottimo artista, played a significant role both in shaping Cellini's ideas about his artistic identity, as well as in encouraging the artist to prove his skills as a writer.
This study also examined some of the adaptations of Cellini's Vita in order to determine which qualities of the original made it so attractive to playwrights and film directors who decided to remake Cellini's autobiography for the stage and screen. It was determined that the adaptations that sought to exploit the comic elements of Cellini's Vita tended to be the most successful. These American adaptations of the 1920's and 1930's also benefited from the popular fascination with the Italian Renaissance that is revealed in the travel writing of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 191-205)
Noteby Mary E. Sisler
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.