The scene on the left shows the story of Hercules and the hydra. The scene on the right shows Hercules in battle with a centaur. In the center is a coat of arms. Large face masks are carved on each end.
In both artistic design and execution, the right and left figural reliefs of this cassone are of the highest quality; evidence of the work of a master artist. The fact that master artists employed their skills on chest is well documented. “There were specialists in intarsia-making and wood-carving of great renown, . . . famous artists having more especially made designs for chests and figural reliefs.”, Furniture and Interior Decoration of the Italian Renaissance, by Frida Schottmuller, pages XXX-XXXI.
Provenance: The earliest known provenance is that the piece was with New York antique dealer Harry Widner in the early 1950’s. A 1954 newspaper article of Norwalk, Connecticut documents that Harry Widner had bequeathed the cassone to his friend, Harry Stokes (see reproduction of article at the left). The article, written from a human interest perspective rather than for technical accuracy, exaggerates the age, size, and value of the piece. The cassone was with the Stokes family, by descent, until 2010.
Condition: Basically all original (including feet) and in excellent condition for its age. A few small repairs on the back surfaces and bottom surfaces; no repairs to the front and sides. Some worm holes throughout. No lock.
A fine Italian renaissance cassone, second half 16th century (M02)
Length 73”, width 24” (measured at the body, excluding feet), height 30” (including feet)