Thursday, 15 January 2015

Make your own Cassone

A cassone is a large marriage chest that was one of the trophy furnishings of rich merchants and aristocrats in Italian culture.  These beautifully painted and gilded works of art were given to a bride by her parents, as their contribution to the wedding. It was filled with the personal goods of the bride and placed at the foot of the bed in the bridal suite.

"This cassone was probably made to celebrate a marriage in the Strozzi family, as it is decorated with family emblems on the sides. The scene on the front is thought to portray the conquest of Trebizond. However, two other surfaces of the cassone are decorated with painted imitations of the textile designs. The exchange of expensive luxury fabrics and jewels was an important component of wedding preparations during the Renaissance. The inside of the lid and the back panel, seen here, are both painted to look like the magnificent "pomegranate"-style velvets, with two heights of silk pile and metal-thread brocading. These painted surfaces refer to the valuable contents that would have been stored in such a chest." - Metropolitan Museum

What I found especially fascinating here, is the back view that seems to be unfinished. Because it was made to be placed at the foot of the bed, the back was not finished off like the rest of the chest and you can see the construction, yet they did decorate it to some extent. Almost like an afterthought or perhaps a later addition. Might this have been done by someone else at a later stage?   Note the patina on the light wood - scratches and cracking.

This cassone is the work of Marco del Buono Giamberti (Italian, Florentine, 1402–1489); Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso (Italian, Florentine, 1415/17–1465). It was decorated with tempera, gold, and silver and is housed in the Metropolitan Museum.

Now, making your own, slightly simplified cassone, is quite doable.

You can use an existing wooden chest or box. Alternatively, you could make a basic chest, using the woodwork skills taught in the Display Case Module of the FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course.

Once you have your structure, you can create your own low relief decoration on the required areas. For that you would use the recipes and techniques from Italian Style Frame Module in which students learn to make a gold frame with the same kind of low relief decoration as the cassone in the above photos.

Next you would prepare the flat surfaces, transfer the images of your choice and apply paint in the same manner as you would do with the Byzantine Style Icon in the Icon Module. The paint itself can be made according to the recipe for tempera, as used in creating the Angel Plaque in the same course.

Finally you will need to distress and seal your cassone in the same fashion as we do with the above mentioned PROJECTS from this course, in order for it to look authentically old.

Anyone up for the challenge? I would love to see your cassone.

Happy Painting!

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