Cassone with a Tournament Scene

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Painted chests like this are called cassone (literally ‘a large chest’). They were made to celebrate a marriage and were often used to store a new bride’s dresses and linens. Cassone were in such high demand in Florence that painters like Apollonio di Giovanni had workshops specialising in their decoration. They were usually placed in the camera, a room with beds that was also a social space. Such a setting invited fashionable subjects, including poetry, ancient history and contemporary civic events, valued by the educated elite who could afford such items. This one shows a jousting tournament: two rows of opposing jousters, separated by wooden arches, aim to push each other off their horses with lances. The rich and busy setting allowed the painter to include lots of detail in the costumes as well as gold leaf in the horses' harnesses.

The National Gallery, London



Cassone with a Tournament Scene


probably about 1455-65


Carved and gilded wood


H 38.1 x W 130.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Sir Henry Bernhard Samuelson, Bt, in memory of his father, 1937

Work type



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