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Pair of marriage chests: The Morelli Chest

A cassone is a big decorated chest made in Italy between the 14th and 16th centuries. Weddings have always been a time to spend a lot of money. Rich men who would-be husbands in a Florentine society ordered a pair of beautifully decorated marriage chests. Cassoni is what people in Italy call these chests.

In the past, the cassoni was carried through the streets by the newlyweds and the groom’s family from the bride’s family home to her new home. Cassoni were put on display in the most important and well-furnished room in the palace. They held her dowry of linens and fine clothes. In 1472, a wealthy Florentine merchant named Lorenzo Morelli married a young noblewoman named Vaggia Nerli.

This pair is a celebration of that event. On each corner of each chest, the coats of arms of both families are shown.

These cassoni are one of a kind because they are the only ones that have stayed together as a pair and kept their original backs. They are decorated with small scenes framed by curtains that look made of silk with many patterns. A luxury import from the Islamic Mediterranean, these fabrics are also hinted at inside the painted lid, which reminds of what’s inside the chests.

Sources

Campbell, G. (2006). The Grove Encyclopedia of decorative arts. Oxford University Press.

โ€œPair of Marriage Chests: The Morelli Chest – Biagio Di Antonio, Jacopo Del Sellaio and Zanobi Di Domenico – Google Arts and Culture.โ€ Google Arts & Culture, artsandculture.google.com/asset/6gGfsK3yA3kTTw?childAssetId=wQFa-JplJ5qqMA. Accessed 22 Sept. 2022.

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