New Frist Exhibition celebrates love in the Renaissance

Circle of Giovanni di Tommasino Crivelli (documented 1434–1481, Perugia). Marriage Chest (cassone) with Tournament Scenes, ca. 1440–50. Wooden chest with punched, gilded, and painted gesso; hemp lining, 29 1/8 x 63 3/4 x 22 in. Collection of Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy.

The Frist Art Museum presents Life, Love & Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy, an exhibition that 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, the exhibition will be on view in the Frist’s Upper-Level Galleries from November 16, 2018, through February 18, 2019.

Beginning in the late 1300s, cassoni (cassone: singular) — 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.

“The chests’ function, craftsmanship, and decorative techniques, and the significance and sources of the imagery are at the heart of the exhibition,” says Frist Art Museum curator Trinita Kennedy. “We are excited to present several rare complete cassoni, as well as fragments, which include lavish wood panels that usually depict themes of fidelity and love as well as narrative scenes drawn from history and mythology.”

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. Plan now to attend the various Public Programs that accompany the exhibition: Friday, November 16, the Opening Night Lecture for Life, Love & Marriage Chests is at 6:30 p.m. in the Frist Art Museum Auditorium. Renaissance Italy: Art, Marriage, and Family; Florentine Renaissance Palace will be presented by Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, professor of art, Wellesley College. Musacchio earned her PhD from Princeton University, and is the author of The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy and Art, Marriage, and Family in the Florentine Renaissance Palace.

Thursday, December 6 at 12 Noon — Curator’s Tour: Life, Love, and Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy presented by Trinita Kennedy,curator. A Members-Only Curator’s Tour will be held on Friday, December 7, at noon. Join Trinita Kennedy as she explores how cassoni and other domestic objects promoted values of love, marriage, and family life.

The Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Art Museum’s newly renovated Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Art Museum exhibitions. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon.

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