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  • Place of origin:

    Rome (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved walnut, parcel gilt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Cassone (literally 'large boxes') were the main form of storage in Italy throughout the 16th century. They were associated with weddings and often included the arms of the married couple. By about 1550, it had become more fashionable to carve rather than paint cassoni. They were decorated with mythological themes, often derived from murals by Raphael, Michelangelo and Giulio Romano in the palaces and villas of cardinals and noblemen in or near Rome. This example is decorated with winged amorini pulled in chariots by mythical animals, probably representing the Roman Gods, like those in the decorations of the Villa Lante, painted by Giulio Romano (1499 - 1546) in about 1520.

Physical description

Coffer . Walnut wood, carved in high relief, and parcel gilt: in the centre of the front is a shield of arms supported by putti, and on either side of this is a cartouche with a putto in a chariot drawn by dogs and bulls

Place of Origin

Rome (possibly, made)


ca. 1550 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved walnut, parcel gilt


Height: 63 cm, Width: 185.5 cm, Depth: 57 cm

Object history note

Bought for 110£ (No further information given in the early register)

Descriptive line

Of carved walnut, parcel gilt; Italy c1560

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

H.Avray Tipping, Italian furniture of the Italian Renaissance as represented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Country Life March 31st 1917, pp. 3-8
London, South Kensington Museum: Ancient and Modern Furniture & Woodwork in the South Kensington Museum, described with an introduction by John Hungerford Pollen (London, 1874), p.

“Sarcophagus shaped . The shield is charged with a fess of three lines , of which the middle is wavy. In chief are five descending rays and in base a fleur-de-lis. Winged harpy figures turning into foliage scrolls with masks, are carved on the angles. The bottom is cut into scrolls and rests on claw feet. The plinth is a flat platform with guilloche ornament cut round the edge. The ground of the carved portions is gilt. It is Florentine, and belongs to the middle of the 16th century."
Wilhelm von Bode, Italian Renaissance Furniture (originally published as Die Italienischen Hausmöbel der Renaissance, Leipzig 1902) translated by Mary Herrick (New York, 1921). P.78

Eric Mercer, The Social History of the Decorative Arts – Furniture 700-1700 (London, 1969), fig. 108
Franz Windisch-Graetz, Möbel Europa. 2. Renaissance-Manierismus (Munich, 1982), fig. 59
Clive Wainwright, edited for publication by Charlotte Gere, The making of the South Kensington Museum III. Collecting abroad, in Journal of the History of Collections 14 no. 1 (2002) pp.45-61
On p.48 n.9 notes that 4414 to 4417-1857 were purchased in Paris, (apparently by Cole or Robinson).

Labels and date

Carved walnut, partly gilt
ITALIAN (ROMAN); mid 16th century
Centre: an unidentified shield of arms supported by two putti.
On either side: putti driving chariots, drawn by dogs (left) and bulls (right).
4414-1857 [4/1992]
Walnut with gesso and gilding
ITALIAN; about 1560

From about 1550, cassoni (literally large boxes), used forstorage and often associated with marriage, were being carved rather than painted. This cassone is decorated with amorini driving dogs and bulls in strapwork cartouches. Mythological and ancient historical themes were popular, often deriving from engravings of paintings by Raphael and Michelangelo, or illustrations to popular versions of classical texts. The provenance and coat-of-arms are unknown, but museum records indicate that this cassone came from Florence. [Pre-2006]

Production Note

There is no information about the cassone in the early catalogue. JOhn Hungerfold Pollen claims that it was Florentine, but whether it came from a Florentine palazzo or Florence-based dealer is not clear. It is similar to a cassone that bears the arms of the Roman family, Delfini (Museum No. 4416 - 1857).


Walnut; Gold leaf; Gesso


Gilding; Carving; Joinery

Subjects depicted



Furniture; Containers; Renaissance (Italian); Medieval and renaissance


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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