Exhibit of the month

  • We present to your attention a cassone (Italian: box, chest), which is exhibited in the Large Fireplace Hall of the Radziwill Castle.
  • The cassone is made by Italian masters of the 16th—17th centuries from walnut wood in the late Renaissance style. It has a rectangular shape typical of the style, a profiled lid decorated with ionics and acanthus leaves, and the lower frieze and legs with «lion paws».
  • The main decor is placed on three front panels: carved mascarons and floral ornaments on the two side panels and «chequy» on the central panel. The coat of arms belongs to the Pepoli di Bologna, a still-existing Italian noble family, whose representative ruled in Bologna in the middle of the 14th century.
  • There is another cassone similar in material, form, technique and decor to this one, with a crest shield, surrounded by figures of griffins and floral ornaments. The corners are flanked by carved masks made in high relief. Currently, it is on view at the permanent exhibition of the Town Hall.

A cassone is a traditional piece of furniture in an Italian Renaissance dwelling, second in importance after the bed. This is a large mobile chest, low enough to sit or lie on, with a hinged lid. It was used to store clothes and household utensils, and particular decorated pieces served as wedding chests for storing the dowry. An average bride could have up to 40 such chests in stock. Over time, the utilitarian functions of cassone have decreased, and they have become a real masterpiece of carving, home decoration, an indicator of the wealth and high social status of the owner.