Wedding chest (cassone) with painted panel showing the Death of Lucretia, ca. 1465-1475
Wood and tempera
Overall: 28 1/8 in x 72 1/2 in x 26 1/4 in; 71.4 cm x 184.2 cm x 66.7 cm
Purchase with the Warbeke Art Museum Fund
Cassoni are Italian marriage chests that were filled with a woman's dowry (textiles, silver, etc.) to bring with her to her new husband's home. The painted imagery on cassoni would be seen by many: they were carried through the streets as part of the marriage procession, and then used as furniture in the home. The subject of the death of Lucretia on this cassone is especially interesting because of its popularity in Renaissance art and its role in conveying moral lessons from antiquity. Certain elements are common to all the versions of the story: the rape of the Roman noblewoman Lucretia by the son of the Tarquinian tyrant king; her revelation of the crime to her husband and father; her subsequent suicide; and the revenge engineered by her family that led to the expulsion of the Tarquins and the establishment of the Roman Republic. The rape of Lucretia and its aftermath, whether historical fact, mythology, or legend, has had an enduring hold on the imagination of artists and writers in the Western world.