Gilded and painted cassone

Italy (Venice?), Cassone, late-sixteenth or early seventeenth century, gilded and painted wood, 56 x 123.5 x 48.5 cm, Fondation Étrillard collection

Sala dell'aurora

Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, 2022

Since its invention during the Renaissance, certainly as early as the fifteenth century and perhaps even earlier, the cassone has been a typically Italian piece of furniture: it is a chest given to the bride on the occasion of her wedding, filled with crockery, linen and other precious effects; in other words, an important part of her dowry and trousseau. In Tuscany in particular, young girls received a cassone whose luxury reflected the wealth of their family. Although the form of the cassone itself is susceptible to little variation, their decoration can range from a certain sobriety to a veritable display of splendour. The example from the Palazzo Vendramin-Grimani has a chest with curved sides resting on a shelf supported by claws. On the front, a rich sculpted decoration is organised in two panels bordered by friezes of interlacing knotwork. On each of the panels, griffins frame medallions that probably bore the arms of the families of the two young spouses. The lid has a central panel sculpted with four griffins facing each other around an antique-style vase. The decorative vocabulary is thus of the Renaissance in style and characteristic of these refined pieces of furniture that sealed the union of two families and the love of two young spouses.