Cassone or Wedding chest, decorated with sculptural relief depicting the Four Cardinal Virtues flanked by candelabra with armorial bearings; scene of the Rape of Prosperine fighting centaurs and a centaur carrying a woman

Wedding chest (cassone), 1475–85

This Renaissance wedding chest is among the best preserved in the world, with its lock intact and fragments of the original lining inside. These luxury objects were commissioned to celebrate marriages and decorate couples’ bedrooms.

Gilded and stamped reliefs decorate the front of this chest. The coats of arms belong to two prominent families from the Tuscan town of Lucca, the Cenami (groom, left) and Balbani (bride, right). The four women represent the cardinal virtues, Temperance, Justice, Fortitude, and Prudence. They are flanked by two fantastical scenes—a combat between hybrid creatures at left and a lustful centaur galloping with a maiden on his back. She probably represents Demeter, goddess of the harvest, who was celebrated in the Renaissance for bringing prosperity and civilization to humankind. With her lit torch and calm reason, she is depicted dominating the centaur’s bestial nature.

Details
Title
Wedding chest (cassone)
Role
Artist
Accession Number
16.747
Provenance
Elia Volpi, Palazzo Davanzati, Florence (until 1916, his sale, American Art Galleries, New York, November 23, 1916, no. 438, for $4,300, to French & Co for Mia)
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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Cassone or Wedding chest, decorated with sculptural relief depicting the Four Cardinal Virtues flanked by candelabra with armorial bearings; scene of the Rape of Prosperine fighting centaurs and a centaur carrying a woman