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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (possibly Rome)

  • Date:

    1540-1560 (made)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Chest or cassone of walnut wood, carved in high relief, and parcel gilt; in the centre of the front is a shield of arms supported by cupids, and on either side of this is a cartouche with a cupid in a chariot drawn by horses and lions.

Place of Origin

Italy (possibly Rome)


1540-1560 (made)

Object history note

Bought for £110 in Paris (No further information given in the early register).
Object sampling carried out by Jo Darrah, V&A Science; drawer/slide reference 1/69

Conservation treatment was carried out in 1991: epoxy to stabilise old woodwork; apron refixed; dark varnish removed

The amorini driving lions and horses may be derived from (respectively) the Genius of Cybele and Genius of Mars motifs from the Villa Lante murals in Rome, recently attributed to Raphael.

Research (c2005) did not identify the coat of arms on 4415-1857.

Sources consulted:

Il codice araldico degli stemmi personali : compilato su ordine dell'imperatrice Maria Teresa d'Austria e successori / a cura di Andrea Borella D'Alberti. Studio araldico genealogico diplomatico italiano, 1998.

Stemmario italiano delle famiglie nobili e notabili. A cura di Adalberto Ricotti Bertagnoni. Presentazione di Giacomo C. Bascapè
Ricotti Bertagnoni, Adalberto. Bassano del Grappa, La remondiniana, 1970-

Blasone veneto, descritto ne'xxxv tomi della Biblioteca Universale.
Coronelli, Vincenzo, 1650-1718.

Le Arme, overo, Insegne di tutti li nobili della città di Venetia.
Bologna : SEAB, 1978.

Historical context note

Comparable cassoni

North Italian c1550, 167 x 56 x 68cm; Museo Poldi Pezzoli di Milano, Maria Teresa Balboni Brizza: Stipi e cassoni. (Turin, 1995), no. 5
Cassone (Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence), illustrated in Mina Gregori, Renato Ruotolo, Lisa Bandera Gregori, Il Mobile Italiano dal Rinascimento agli anni trenta (Milan, 1981),

Descriptive line

Walnut, carved and gilded, Italy c1550

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

Wilhelm Bode, Die Italienischen Hausmöbel der Renaissance, p.78
London, South Kensington Museum: Ancient and Modern Furniture & Woodwork in the South Kensington Museum, described with an introduction by John Hungerford Pollen (London, 1874)
“The subjects of the carving are different from those of the preceding number, but the two coffers are a pair, and may from the nature of the subjects he concluded to have been part of a bride’s dower, or the marriage furniture of the family”
Frieda Schottmüller, Furniture and Interior Decoration of the Italian Renaissance (Stuttgart, 1928), p.62
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

ITALIAN (probably ROMAN);
about 1560.
Carved chestnut and partly gilt.
The coat-of-arms not identified.
4415-1857 [pre-2006]
Walnut with gesso and gilding
ITALIAN; about 1560
From about 1550, cassoni (literally large boxes), used for storage 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 derived from engravings of paintings by Raphael and Michelangelo or illustrations to popular versions of classical texts. The amorini driving lions and horses may have been derived respectively from the Genius of Cybele and Genius of Mars motifs from the Villa Lante murals, recently attributed to Raphael, in Rome. The provenance and coat-of-arms are unknown, but museum records indicate that this cassone came from Florence. [pre-2006]


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


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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