12 February – 17 May 2009

Wedding Scene on Courtauld Wedding ChestPanel depicting a wedding chestWedding Scene on Wedding Chest Panel

A marriage in 15th century Florence was not primarily about love or religion. Instead it was a dynastic alliance between powerful families.

To celebrate these marriages, pairs of great chests, lavishly decorated with precious metals and elaborate paintings, were commissioned. These items – now generally called cassoni – were often the most expensive of a whole suite of decorative objects commissioned to celebrate marriage alliances between powerful families. They were displayed in Florentine palaces and used to store precious items such as clothes and textiles.

The painted panels set into the wedding chests tell fascinating tales from ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine, as well as from Florentine literature and more recent history.  These beautifully told stories were intended to entertain as well as to instruct husband and wife, their servants, children and visitors.

Further information about the exhibition

Watch three movies about the exhibition

Listen to five podcasts telling some of the stories depicted on the painted chests

To download a free teachers' resource please click below

pdf document The Courtauld Wedding Chests Teachers' Resource

To download 10 things you may want to know about cassoni please click below
pdf document 10 Things you may want to know about cassoni


For podcasts, videos and a virtual tour of the Gallery, please see our multimedia pages

Online French Resource:
For our online French Resource, please see Le Francais par les peintres pages


Teachers' Events:

For further details or to find out more about future teachers' events relating to exhibitions and other aspects of the programme please contact Sarah Green:

t: 0207 848 2705 e: