During the Renaissance period chests furnish state rooms and private chambers, they are among the most prestigious pieces of furniture. The 16th century taste favours natural wood and particularly walnut by opposition with the previous century when Italian palaces were lavishly ornated with paintings and gold. Expressing the union of two families the wedding chest hosts the trousseau : linen, books, gold and silver dishes. Their execution is entrusted to praised arists whose identities are today hard to establish.
This remarkable sober cassone stands on a molded base enriched by a pastiglia arabesque decor.
The facade is divided into three moulded frames highlighted by a light wood inlay. The inner spaces are also adorned by an inlaid decor. The central one probably presented both families’ coat-of-arms. It’s supported by two angels flanked by two male figures whose draperies are agitated in volutes. The lateral panels’ ornamentation is similar. Framing a winged female sheathed bust are depicted swans, lizards, dancing fauns, drape and fruit garlands. The lateral posts bear a cariatid figure holding a fruit basket on her head.
The cassone’s sides are highlighted by an inlaid frame.
The edge and central parts of the thin lid are enriched with a pastiglia arabesque decor.
With its fair proportions, the quality of wood and the refinement of the inlaid and pastiglia decor this chest really is an astounding piece. Executed in Italy during the late 16th century no doubt this cassone took place in a lavishly furnished palace.