"his Mantegnas, his Giulio Romanos, his Cellini salt cellars"

 Andrea Mantegna (1431 - 1506) was an Italian painter and engineer who worked during the Renaissance.  He was born near Padua and was informally adopted at the age of ten by the artist Francesco Squarcione.  He served as his apprentice; the older man's passion for antiquity made a great impression on him.  Mantegna went on to paint pictures that seem very influenced by sculpture, depicting figures such as Christ, Caesar, St. Sebastian and the Magi.  In 1440 he was appointed as the court artist in Mantua, a position for in which he was highly paid.  Pope Innocent VIII commissioned him in 1488 to paint frescoes in the Belvedere Chapel in the Vatican.  Mantegna is best remembered for his developments in perspective; he would often create the illusion in his paintings that the viewer was looking up at the figure from below, therefore making them appear monumental.

 Giulio Romano (1499-1546) was an Italian architect, painter and engineer.  He began his career as a pupil of Raphael, and assisted greatly in some of the master's public works; examples incluse the figures of Adam and Eve, Noah and Moses in 'Raphael's Bible' in the Loggie of the Vatican.  He also worked on the saloon of the 'Incendio del Borgo'.  Raphael left Romano a great deal of his equipment when he died.  In 1524, the Duke of Mantua asked Romano to move there and work in his service as an architect and painter.  Some of the projects he undertook here were 'The History of Troy' in the Castello, rebuilding work on a large scale at the Palazzo del Te (one of the Duke's residences) and extensive renovations at the Cathedral of Mantua.  His prolific and relentless output of work was perhaps a contributing factor towards his early death at the age of 46.

Bust of Benvenuto Cellini, by Raffaello Romanelli, Ponte Vecchio, Firenze.
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBust of Benvenuto Cellini, by Raffaello Romanelli, Ponte Vecchio, Firenze. - Credit: Thermos
Often called the 'Mona Lisa of sculpture', the Cellini Salt Cellar, or 'Saliera', is a table sculpture carved from gold, ivory, enamel and ebony.  Created in 1543 by Benvenuto Cellini, it is now insured for almost $65 million.  It depicts two figures: Ceres, goddess of the earth, and Neptune, god of the sea.  This is an allegory of the two elements needed to produce salt.  The item was famously stolen from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 2003, but was found buried in a forest nearly 60 miles away.  The reference here to Cellini's 'salt cellars' demonstrates the amount of wealth the girl's father has lost; this particular piece was only ever in the possession of royalty. 
Creative Commons AttributionSaliera - Credit: Jerzy Strzelecki