The Triumph of Marriage:
Painted Cassoni of the Renaissance
February 14, 2009 - April 19, 2009
Triumph was a pervasive theme in Renaissance public culture. Parades and processions, civic festivities and marriage cortèges, religious tableaux-vivants and political embassies could all take the form of a triumphal procession of chariots winding through the city streets. Tuscan domestic pictures on cassoni or wedding chests (and spalliere or wainscoting) draw upon a wide range of sources: ancient, medieval, and contemporary. The triumphant imagery they show – Scipio or Alexander, Solomon and Sheba, or Bacchus and Ariadne, for example – ultimately reflects on the triumphant celebration of a marriage, the event for which the pictures were made and which they continued to commemorate while on display in the home.
In this exhibition, we hope that excellent examples of cassone panels will allow viewers to appreciate the complexity and invention of these works. One centerpiece of the show will be the entire chest from the Worcester Art Museum that represents the Coronation of Emperor Frederick III, along with its pendant, the Marriage of Frederick III and Leonora of Portugal (Sotheby’s 1999). These pictures, attributed to Giovanni di Ser Giovanni, called Lo Scheggia, bridge the gap between Pesellino and Botticelli and show how contemporary political events might be included in the triumphal mode of domestic painting. One goal of this exhibition is to borrow important examples of Tuscan domestic painting that enlarge upon key works at the Gardner Museum. Pesellino’s Triumphs of Love, Chastity and Death and Fame, Time and Eternity, Sandro Botticelli’s Tragedy of Lucretia, the anonymous Sienese pastiglia cassone, the Falconetto grisaille panel, the Sienese Roman Heroes, etc. are currently shown along with Renaissance religious pictures, textiles, musical instruments and furniture.
An illustrated catalogue accompanies the show. At the Ringling, a gallery devoted to the domestic interior in the Florentine Renaissance will also be included to give visitors a sense of the original context of cassoni.
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester