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cassone


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Italian term for a large, decorated chest, especially one that contained a bride's dowry or was given as a wedding present. They were popular from the 14th to the 16th century, and cassoni with painted fronts were particularly fashionable in 15th-century Florence. These paintings usually represented episodes from the Bible or classical history or mythology that pointed a lesson or contained a happy augury for the newly-weds. Often the cassoni were made as pairs, bearing the coats of arms respectively of the bride and groom, as with a pair, dated 1472, in the Courtauld Gallery, London (this pair is particularly noteworthy in retaining the original backboards—spalliere). Cassone paintings are rarely of high quality, although some major artists such as Domenico Veneziano, Uccello, and Botticelli seem to have done them once in a while. The chief documented exponent was Apollonio di Giovanni (1415–65). Often panels have been detached from cassoni and are now displayed as independent paintings. Any Renaissance picture of appropriate subject, size, and proportions (roughly three or four times longer than it is high) is likely to be described as a cassone panel, although similar pictures were used in other furnishings (for example on beds).

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.


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