NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “Life, Love & Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy” highlights marriage ritual artifacts during the Italian Renaissance on display Nov. 16-Feb. 18 in the Upper-Level Galleries at the Frist Art Museum.
The exhibit 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.
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.
Displayed alongside the chests is an array of other art objects also made for the home, including devotional paintings, pottery, and textiles.
This exhibition was organized by Contemporanea Progetti with the Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy.
This exhibition is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information, visit www.fristartmuseum.org.
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Ellen Jones Pryor