Italian (Tuscany, Florence or Siena)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 956

Cassone is the term given to large decorated chests made in Italy from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Next to the marriage bed, cassoni were cherished in wealthy Renaissance households, for they held clothing, precious fabrics, and other valuables. Often commissioned by the groom in marriage, a cassone was prominently carried in the nuptial procession, laden with the dowry of his new bride. In the fifteenth century, whole workshops were given over to the manufacture and decoration of cassoni.

Italian Renaissance workshops produced cassone front panels painted with episodes from classical or biblical history and mythology, evidently felicitous narratives for the newly married. Other cassone designs featured ornamental and figural carvings and inlays of various kinds, as in this splendid example from the Robert Lehman Collection. This cassone is embellished with a pattern of facing eagles, two armorial shields referencing the families united in marriage, and a fleurs-de-lis motif on the sides. These raised decorations were modeled in gesso on the wooden base with the use of a mold and then gilded.

Cassone, Pinewood and poplar, gesso, partly gilded, form molded, and painted., Italian (Tuscany, Florence or Siena)

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