Published: December 11, 2018
NASHVILLE, TENN. – The Frist Art Museum presents “Life, Love & Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy,” an exhibition that offers an intimate view of life in the Renaissance through art commissioned to celebrate marriage and family. Drawing on a selection of outstanding marriage chests, panels and a variety of domestic objects belonging to the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy, the exhibition will be on view in the Frist’s upper-level galleries through February 18.
Beginning in the late 1300s, cassoni – elaborately painted and gilded marriage chests – were an important part of marriage rituals and among the most prestigious furnishings in the house or palace of the newlyweds. Usually commissioned in pairs and shaped like ancient sarcophagi, the chests were an expression of the family’s wealth and position in society. They were conspicuously paraded through the streets from the bride’s family home to her husband’s home – a clear statement of a new economic and political alliance between elite families – and then later used in the home for seating and storage. Cassoni are considered antecedents to the hope chests popular in America until the middle of the last century.
“The chests’ function, craftsmanship and decorative techniques, and the significance and sources of the imagery are at the heart of the exhibition,” says Frist Art Museum curator Trinita Kennedy. “We are excited to present several rare complete cassoni, as well as fragments, which include lavish wood panels that usually depict themes of fidelity and love, as well as narrative scenes drawn from history and mythology.”
Displayed alongside the chests is an array of other art objects also made for the home, including devotional paintings, pottery and textiles.
The exhibition was organized by Contemporanea Progetti with the Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy.
The Frist is at 919 Broadway. For information, 615-244-3340 or www.fristartmuseum.org.
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