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"Perseus" by Benvenuto Cellini, Loggia dell Signoria, Florence, Italy.

Statue of "Perseus" by Benvenuto Cellini, one of Europe's most distiguished bronze statues. It shows the mythical Greek hero, the son of Zeus and Danae, holding the severed and snake-covered head of Medussa, whose gaze was said to turn humans into stone. The statue took almost ten years to complete (1545-1553), the size and difficulty of casting so huge a figure having resulted in countless false starts.

Cellini, a larger than life figure, described in his Autobiography of 1554 how the furnaces melting the bronze became so hot they set fire to his house. As the inferno raged, Cellini and his associates hurled all available metal in the house into the melt - including the cutlery and family pewter. When the bronze cooled, the statue was revealed as complete - a feat many had said was impossible - save for three toes on the right foot, which were added later.

Last Revised October 12, 2007

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