A Late 17thC North Italian Walnut & Marquetry Inlaid Cassone

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Origin: Italian
Period: Late Seventeenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1670
Height: 26 inches
Length: 64 inches
Depth: 21 inches

The hinged rectangular pine top with moulded edge above a marquetry inlaid panelled lower case, the two front central panels composed of a divided roundel with a sun and three flower motifs, within a stylised floral border, spaced by conforming raised panels, on a plinth base above later carved supports.

Cassoni were often made to commemorate a marriage, and in them would have been stored clothing, linen, textiles and other articles given as dowry.  Many are embellished with inlay, as in this example; others were finely painted with mythological or figural subjects. Important cassoni were often made in pairs and bore the arms and other heraldic devices of the respective noble families, and the finest cassoni were of carved and polished wood and painted with mannerist designs. The front panels of this example are decorated with heraldic elements: the circular roundel is divided by a straight diagonal bar (a heraldic ordinary known as a 'bend'), either side of which are three inlaid flower motifs and a bursting sun. These emblems would have represented the arms of a family for which this cassone was made, though our researches into identifying the arms have proved inconclusive.

The chest has a good rich colour and patina, is largely original, and has the original heavy working lock with a recent custom-made key.  As one would expect, there are a few minor old scuffs and marks, and there is a chance the pine top could possibly be later, but the whole is solid, of quality construction, with a beautiful finish. For the price, you would be hard pressed to find a more attractive and original example.

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