A Cassone to Hope For


A cassone is a large chest, often used for a women’s trousseau and sometimes called a wedding chest. They were a prized possession and status symbol for many families and were often displayed in the bedroom. These beautiful specimens here were on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston when I visited last year. IMG_0682

Titian’s famous painting, the Venus of Urbino, shows a cassone in the background, which has led some people to speculate that this is a wedding portrait, though the woman’s gaze and posture are far more racy than other wedding portraits of the time. The real woman who sat for Titian’s painting, we believe, is Angela del Moro, a courtesan and friend of Titian’s (with quite a story that I won’t go into here, though I wrote a chapter about her in A Beautiful Woman in Venice). You can see that a servant is kneeling before the cassone.

Someone once gave me a hope chest, I guess a sort of modern equivalent of the cassone. But I wish mine looked like one of these!

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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4 Responses to A Cassone to Hope For

  1. Luca Marchiori says:

    Beautiful post, thank you! Did you know that there’s a lot of evidence to show that Tintoretto worked as cassone painter in his youth, decorating the boxes with panels as in the photo above, and that he covered this part of his history up when he became an established artist?

    • No, I didn’t know about this! Thank you for sharing this detail from history. Wow, if only we knew which cassone were his, if any still exist, how interesting it would be to see the evolution of his work.

      • Luca Marchiori says:

        The book Jacomo Tintoretto e suoi figli by Melania Mazzucco is full of detail like this. Everything you wanted to know about Tintoretto (including that he called himself Jacomo not Jacopo) in a single volume. An amazing book.

  2. Good to know–thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

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