Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and ThingsMain MenuWorld MapClick pins to learn more about the object that originated thereTimelinePre-Columbian Gold Headband800 A.D. - 1500 A.D.Gold Eagle PendantsSepik River Headrest20th centuryStatue of Saint Barbara17th century France, polychromed wood, artist unknownCabinet door from the Imperial Palace of Beijing with Imperial DragonChen Youzhang, 1755Bronze LampHead of John the BaptistLauren Linquest, '19Ida Rubenstein, 1909 Sculpture by Jo DavidsonCassone ChestWater-Carrier Vase with Bamboo Pattern and BambooLenore Vanderkooi, 1996Lotus Flowers in a Wood VaseRevolutions Per Minute: The Art RecordOpening page
12016-04-14T13:41:56-07:00Haley Bowsedd64944ebfec6d3bfe1af110a6ff29c1b8efbc9885321This entirely gilded cassone, belonging to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is an example of one of the more lavishly decorated chests from the time, indicating its owners had significant wealth.plain2016-04-14T13:41:57-07:00Haley Bowsedd64944ebfec6d3bfe1af110a6ff29c1b8efbc98
In Renaissance Italy, marriage was more than a simple tie between individuals; it was a financial and political merger between families. Affluent Italians used strategically planned marriages as political tools to increase their social influence. Over the course of several years, the social elite arranged marriages for their children, and these bonds were celebrated with extravagant weddings. The wedding procession, in which the bride was paraded through town from her father’s house to her husband’s home, announced the marriage to the community and was intended to garner support. This event symbolized the transition from the bride’s former life with her family to her new one with her husband.
Italian wedding chests, called cassoni, played an integral role in the wedding procession. Prior to the wedding, the groom ordered a pair of cassoni, which would be elaborately decorated with paintings and carvings according to the family’s wealth. As the wedding participants carried the cassoni alongside the bride, the intricacy of their decoration flaunted the merging families’ social and economic statuses. The chests also carried part of the bride’s dowry, which consisted of her family’s valuable possessions, thus further advertising the family’s wealth. The scenes painted on the sides of cassoni reflected their owners’ values. For example, a cassone from the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum portrays a story about Lucretia, a woman who exemplified the virtues of honor and marital chastity. Cassoni were thus important forms of communication between families and their communities during the wedding march.