Master of Charles of Durazzo (active 1370–1420, Florence) Panel from a Marriage Chest (cassone) with Story of Torello and Saladin, ca. 1380–90, tempera and molded and gilded gesso on panel, 20 1/8 x 49 1/4 x 2 3/8 in. (51 x 125 x 6 cm), collection of Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy, Inv. 16201.

MADISON, WI .- Drawing on a selection of outstanding panels and complete cassoni—elaborately decorated wedding chests—together with textiles, majolica ware, paintings and other domestic items, this exhibition explores and illustrates life, love, and marriage in Renaissance Florence. Many of the objects—all from the Stibbert Collection in Florence—have never crossed the Atlantic Ocean before, and a Botticelli madonna and child painting is among the treasures. Interactive stations within the exhibit, including family heraldry, gaming tables and tarot cards, will give visitors an immersive Renaissance experience. 

During the Italian Renaissance (roughly mid-fourteeth century to the sixteenth century), cassoni were an important part of marriage rituals and were among the most prestigious furnishings in the house or palace of a new couple. Serving as status symbols, they demonstrated the family’s wealth and position in society. Cassoni were often conspicuously paraded through the streets from the bride’s family home to her husband’s home as a clear statement of a new economic and political alliance between elite families. The stories and imagery selected to decorate the chests tell us much about Renaissance life and society. 

This exhibition was organized by Contemporanea Progetti in collaboration with Museo Stibbert, and is supported by the Mildred L. Stolberg Fund and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Giovanni di Ser Giovanni Guidi, called Lo Scheggia (b. 1406, San Giovanni Valdarno; d. 1486, Florence) Panel from a Marriage Chest (cassone) with Story of Lisabetta of Messina, ca. 1440–50, tempera on panel, 20 5/8 x 18 3/4 x 2 in. (52.5 x 47.5 x 5.2 cm), collection of Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy, Inv. Dipinti 306.


Artist unknown (south central Italy) Enthroned Madonna and Child with Saints and Crucifixion, 1325–50, tempera and gold on panel, 17 3/8 x 18 1/2 x 1 5/8 in. (44 x 47 x 4 cm) open, collection of Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy, Inv. 3524.


Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, called Sandro Botticelli (b. 1445, Florence; d. 1510, Florence) and Workshop, Madonna and Child, ca. 1490, tempera and gold on panel, 28 7/8 x 22 5/8 x 3 7/8 in. (73.5 x 57.5 x 10 cm), collection of Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy, Inv. 16209.