Cassone Adimari

Cassone Adimari

The Cassone Adimari (ca 1450), according to the tradition, was the front panel of a wedding chest. Wedding chests were used to store all of the items the bride had created for her marriage (embroidered sheets, curtains, etc) and part of her dowry to transport them to her new house after the wedding.

The scene depicts the prestigious marriage between Boccaccio Adimari and Lisa Ricasoli, celebrated in 1420, or most likely the Martelli-Adimari union which was celebrated twenty years later. Recent studies report that the nuptial parade may not have made for a wedding “cassone” at all, but that the panel might have actually been a “spalliera”, the wooden wainscoting often used during the Quattrocento (1400s) to line the walls of the nuptial chamber.

At least scholars do agree about the final attribution of the Cassone, painted by Masaccio’s younger brother, known by the nickname of “Lo Scheggia”.

Cassone Adimari

The painting shows an elegant wedding parade taking place in downtown Florence, as witnessed by the white and green building located in the background clearly recognizable as the Baptistry of St. John the Baptist. In the center, a line of noblemen and noblewomen paired in couples move in graceful dance steps under a colorful drapery, accompanied by musicians playing trumpets ** under the small loggia on the left. Under the same loggia, two young servants carry a bowl and a footed dish into a house. Great attention is used to define the long Florentine garments, showing careful refined needlework of local craftsmen, intertwined silver and golden threads in stunning brocade patterns which shows the mastery of Lo Scheggia in depicting such refined details.

** We recently received an email from Nathaniel Wood, a historical trombonist, who alerted us to the fact that it is incorrect to state that the musicians are playing trumpets in the Cassone Adimari. Only one of the three instruments is actually a brass instrument, and that itself was probably a transitional instrument between a slide trumpet and an early trombone.  The other two instruments are actually double-reed instruments called shawms. There’s a third shawm player, between the other two, who is resting and watching his colleagues! 😉 We thank Nathaniel for sharing his knowledge of early brass instruments with us.

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