Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things

Cassone Chest

Cassone, said to belong to the Colonna Family
16th century

cassone is a narrow, rectangular wooden chest used to store linens and for seating.  Because it was usually placed against a wall or at the end of a bed, the back is often unfinished.
Cassoni were popular wedding gifts in Renaissance Italy.  They would be carried in the wedding procession from the home of the bride’s father to that of her husband.  The intricacy of the carved and painted decoration on the cassone indicated the family’s wealth and social status.

Since the Colonnas were a wealthy noble family, it is unlikely that this relatively simple chest actually belonged to them.  Recent examination of the chest has further cast doubt on its origins. The insect damage on the front legs of the chest, but not the back, as well as overall inconsistencies in the wear on the chest suggest that it is not in fact from the sixteenth century. Rather, it may have been compiled from other pieces of furniture and sold to tourists as an antique in post-World War II Italy.

Haley Bowse, '19

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