National Geographic : 1974 Jan
CELLINI'S GOLDEN MASTERWORK "THE KING ... gasped in Amazement and could not take his eyes off it," wrote Benvenuto Cellini, recalling the reaction of Francis I of France in 1543, when he first saw this celebrated saltcellar (left). The Italian sculptor's work, here about actual size, is among the highest expres sions of the goldsmith's art. Ceres and Neptune, deities of earth and sea, crown the cellar, reflecting the Renais sance fascination with figures from Greek myth. An Ionic temple, foreground, holds pep per, while an image of a boat on the opposite side is for salt. Figures clustered around the gods reveal the artist's supreme skill with his delicate chisel notably evident in the expres sive face (right) adorning the stern of the salt boat. Four "sea horses"-half equine, half fish-support Neptune; two (above) exchange nips. A dog peers from beside Ceres' leg (right, center), while on the ebony base a nude female of gold, depicting nighttime, dozes beside musical instruments.