Rare replica of Benvenuto Cellini’s Renaissance Salt Cellar for Francis I

Image of Rare replica of Benvenuto Cellini’s Renaissance Salt Cellar for Francis I

Produced by Morpier Argenteria; after Benvenuto Cellini
Florence, Italy; 1970’s
Gilt silver, enamel, resin and wood

Approximate size: 10.6 (h) x 13.75 (w) x 8.5 (d) in.

A rare reproduction of Benvenuto Cellini’s ‘La Saliera d’Oro’ or ‘golden salt cellar’ produced originally in a limited edition of 499 examples and executed by the museum-quality production firm, Morpier Argenteria, in Florence during the 1970’s. To the present author’s knowledge, authorized reproductions of Cellini’s salt cellar are infrequent. The Argenterie di Milano produced a limited quantity of fine replicas during the 1960’s (see an example offered on 1st Dibs for the price of $154,000).

Cellini’s salt cellar is today considered the singular masterpiece of goldsmiths work from the Renaissance. The original was commissioned by King Francis I of France in 1543 and is today preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The original was stolen in 2003, resulting in an aggressive hunt for its recovery. It was subsequently returned to the museum in 2006 and is today insured for approximately 70 million dollars, attesting to its cultural and historical significance as the most precious work coming down to us from the European Renaissance.

During the Renaissance, fine tableware was commissioned by the wealthy and executed by the talented silver and goldsmiths of the period whom produced silverware, ewers and other accoutrements for the serving and setting of food. The present salt cellar would have held expensive salts, stored in the urn and temple featured on this elaborate sculpture. The cellar is flanked by figural expressions of the Sea and Earth and the theme is accentuated by small reliefs circumnavigating the base which are grounded by fine enamels. The present example is cast in resin and plated with gilt silver, hand-applied colored enamels and is set on a wood base. The reproduction is quite faithful to the original and exemplifies the incredibly mastery of Cellini’s inventiveness and talents.

Good general condition. Minor craquelure to the gilding with some natural tarnishing present. The fork held by Neptune is slightly bent. Otherwise the condition is commensurate with age.