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  • Date:

    ca. 1570 (made)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Coffer. Carved chestnut wood. On the front is represented scenes from the history of David, carved in full relief; at each angle is a statuette of a prophet, and on the ends representations of the seasons. Italian. About 1550.


ca. 1570 (made)

Object history note

Bought (Soulages Collection), £250
Lent (with 7213-1860) to the National Gallery (returned 2004) where they were displayed on their low wooden plinths with wave pattern decoration.

Previously numbered 7708:2-1861 (corrected 2018)

Historical context note

Comparable cassoni
See a pair of walnut cassoni with carved scenes of the story of Judith (NGV (Australia) Accession Number1547.1-2-D4): dims. (1) 74.3 × 180.2 × 60.7 cm and (2) 75.7 × 180.2 × 62.2 cm; acquired 1955 (Anna Drummond, ‘Marriage and murder: two wedding chests with representations of Judith’ in the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Journal 53, 2014: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/marriage-and-murder-two-wedding-chests-with-representations-of-judith/ - accessed 5/5/2016

Cassone on loan to the V&A 1969-1980
Gallery label: 'Chestnut, partly gilt. Italian (probably Roman); second half of the 16th century.
On the ends, figures emblematic of Autumn and Winter; on the front, scenes from the life of David; (left) the annointing of David; (right) David before Saul. Both scenes are also found on a pair of cassoni belonging to the Victoria and Albert Museum (7212-3.1860), now on loan to the National Gallery.
Lent by the Countess of Sutherland

Sotheby's London, 6/7/2016 lot 7 Pair of cassoni, probably Rome 1550-75 (73 x 191 x 62cm)

Descriptive line

Italian, c. 1570. 84/1882

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

J.C.Robinson, Catalogue of the Soulages Collection: being a descriptive inventory of a collection of works of decorative art, formerly in the possession of M. Jules Soulages of Toulouse; now, by permission of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade, exhibited to the public at the Museum of Ornamental Art, Marlborough House (London 1856), Nos. 655, 656, p. 172.
Two carved chestnut-wood coffers. Italian work – circa 1550-60. Length of each 6 ft. 3 in., width 2 ft. 3 in. Height 3 ft. 3 in. These magnificent pieces of furniture are a well-known Italian cinque-cento type, they are usually styled, marriage coffers, or bride’s chests, and are generally supported to have contained the bride’s wardrobe. That they were articles of bedroom furniture is certain, as they may be seen represented in use in many Italian pictures and prints.* The present specimens are said to have been presented to a Countess Della Porta. The subjects forming the friezes or sides of these specimens represent scenes from the history of David, the figures being carved in full relief in the most masterly style. At each angle is a statuette in the round, of a prophet, and the ends of the chests are sculptured with allegorical representations of the seasons. These coffers are evidently the work of an artist sculptor, and not of a mere cabinet maker. [*Footnote – In the celebrated picture called ‘Titian’s Venus’, engraved by Sir Robert Strange, an attendant is seen taking linen from a similar chest, in a bedroom interior].
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. 143.

Coffer. Carved walnut wood. On the front are represented scenes from the history of David, carved in full relief; at each angle is a statuette of a prophet, and on the ends representations of Spring and Summer. Italian. About 1550. Bought (Soulages Coll.), 250l.
This forms one of a pair, of which a full description will be seen in the succeeding number [See 7213-1860]. The carvings represent: 1st, David kneeling before Saul, the king of Israel, and offering to encounter Goliath, the champion of the Philistines. 2nd, the decapitation of Goliath with his own sword by David. The figures at the angles make up together the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. The Spring and the Summer are recumbent female figures, attended by boys, one bearing a sickle the other a cornucopia.

Labels and date

Cassone. The Story of David and Goliath. Unknown Tuscan artist c.1560. Walnut. A household chest (cassone). The figures on the sides represent two of the four seasons. This is a companion piece to the cassone decorated with the Triumph of David, also in this room. L31.3.
[National Gallery, London] [1998]


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


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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