16th Century Italian Wedding Chest

This walnut wedding or bethrothal chest is known as a cassone.

In Renaissance Italy, betrothal and marriage were celebrated with commemorative works of art. These objects were frequently elaborate, marking as they did the joining of a couple, while also demonstrating alliances between powerful families. Particularly significant were cassoni, large storage chests typically used to hold the bride’s dowry.

In mid 15th-century Florence, these chests were sometimes paraded through the city in wedding processions. As part of the domestic interior, the chests were designed to complement the other furnishings in the new couple’s bedchamber. This decorated cassone is of walnut, with decoration of incised work.