Giovanni of Ser Giovanni, called Lo Scheggia, fragment with imprisoned woman (possibly from the Story of Lisabetta da Messina in the Decameron by Boccaccio), ca. 1440–50. Tempera on wood panel, 18 1/8 x 11 x 1 9/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 306.

ATHENS, GA.- Marriage chests from Renaissance Italy are on display at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia from March 9 through May 26, 2019. The exhibition (“Life, Love and Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy”) is organized by Contemporanea Progetti in collaboration with the Stibbert Museum, in Florence. The curator is Martina Beccatini, curator of decorative arts and paintings at the Stibbert. 

During the Italian Renaissance, cassoni, as the elaborately decorated wedding chests of the time are known, were an important part of marriage rituals and were perhaps the most prestigious furnishing in the house of newlyweds. Typically, they were commissioned in pairs by the bride’s father as part of her dowry and to hold her trousseau. They were very much an expression of the family’s wealth and position in society. 


Circle of the Master of the Judgment of Paris, Aristotle ridden by Phyllis, ca. 1440. Tempera on wood panel, 18 1/8 x 19 11/16 x 1 9/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 306.

It is truly a rare occasion for Italian authorities to permit the temporary export of these precious Renaissance wood paintings because they are some of the most delicate and sensitive works of art to preserve. This exhibition offers an extremely limited opportunity to view exquisite panel paintings from this genre. 

The exhibition focuses on the various functions of the wedding chest in early Renaissance life, such as their expression of an alliance between the political and financial interests of elite families. Courtship and marriage had precise protocols at the time, many of which are illustrated. 


Workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni, Assault on a maritime city, ca. 1460. Tempera on wood panel, 17 3/4 x 20 1/2 x 1 9/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 298.

The paintings on the chests often included mythological, religious or allegorical imagery that offered virtuous examples for “good” wives to follow and showed grim consequences for those who did not. They also presented moral and military lessons for young children. Today this imagery offers insight into Renaissance life and society. Drawing on a core selection of outstanding panels and chests belonging to the Stibbert, this exhibition analyzes and illustrates life, love and marriage in a bygone era. 

In addition to the chests, it includes other elements of palace décor, earthenware in majolica, luxurious fabrics, parade shields, jewelry caskets and objects of private devotion. 


Unidentified Senese painter, Cassone with Allegory of Love scenes, ca. 1540. Oil on wood, 18 7/8 x 61 5/8 x 19 5/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 11593.

Director of the Georgia Museum of Art William U. Eiland says, “For the past 30 years, the Georgia Museum of Art has been a leader in studies of Italian art. This exhibition, devoted to the Renaissance domestic interior, is another in a long list of projects devoted to the dissemination of knowledge and scholarship. Truly with this exhibition, Renaissance Italy comes to Athens.” 

The exhibition was previously at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.


Venetian manufacture, women’s shoes, 2nd half 16th century. Leather and silk, 8 11/16 x 5 15/16 x 9 1/16 inches (each). Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 14141.


Italian manufacture, jewelry box, late 15th century. Pastiglia (gypsum and glue), 3 15/16 x 6 5/16 x 4 5/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 13815.


Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi), Madonna with Child, 16th century. Tempera on wood panel, 29 1/8 x 22 7/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 16209.


Urbino manufacture, Fruit plate, 16th century. Majolica, 2 3/4 x 9 13/16 (diameter) inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 11153.


Possibly Deruta manufacture, Pharmacy vase, 1566. Majolica, 7 11/16 x 4 3/4 (diameter) inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 11161.


Master of Carlo III of Durazzo, the Story of the Hunt of Diana, ca. 1830–85. Wood, gold leaf, plaster and tempera on wood panel, 29 7/16 x 50 9/16 x 2 9/16 inches. Museo Stibbert, Firenze, 16202.