Lot N: 0217


Pair of gilt bronze chest locks with trophy decorations, grotesque and allegories of Abundance

18.5 x 19 cm

The Soprintendenza alle Belle Arti italiana considers this painting to be a work of national importance and requires it to remain in Italy; it cannot therefore be exported from Italy.

The two examples of locks, characterized by a high executive quality and the refinement of the trophy and allegory decorations, are most likely to be traced back to an original location on the front of two Renaissance wedding chests, a production that enjoyed great success in Italy between the end of the 14th century and the whole of the15th century. Usually produced in pairs and made on the occasion of the wedding between two exponents of aristocratic families, they often presented on the front the heraldic coats of arms of the two families and rich decorations, carved, painted or sculpted: the themes were mainly symbolic or literary, with frequent references to courtly scenes or classical symbology, with personifications of the Virtues or allegories of Abundance and conjugal fidelity. The structure of the first cassoni evolves from initially geometric and regular shapes, with straight front and sides, to a more moved and varied shape, with increasingly high-relief decorations and "urn" or architectural structures, then reaching rounded shapes densely decorated with sculpted motifs from the second half of the 16th century. These locks, given their strongly classical decoration and the square shape, combined with the considerable size, were probably applied to a pair of early 15th century cassoni, still linked to a partially square shape of the panels, but densely decorated with elegantly carved and sculpted figures, often gilded (thus creating an ideal continuity with the two locks). This typology, in vogue from the second half of the 15th century to the first decades of the 16th century, is well represented by some examples (mainly from the end of the 15th century) as a wedding chest with scenes in gilt pastiglia (gesso) taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of New York (AA. VV. "European Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Highlights of the Collection", New Haven / London 2006, p. 17 fig. 4), one in carved and gilt wood with mythological scenes and garlands in the Bardini museum in Florence (inv. 748) and, above all, a "Cassone with the four Cardinal Virtues", of Florentine context and architectural style, in imitation of classical sarcophagi, belonging to the collection of the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia in Rome (L. Calzona, file 137, in M.G. Barberini, M.S. Sconci (curated by), “Guida al Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia”, Rome 2009, p. 123). Given the 16th century manufacture of the pair of locks, it cannot be excluded that they were made later than the cassoni for which they were conceived, subsequent interventions not uncommon for objects of use. One of the two locks presents noble coats of arms: in the center of the locking plate, at the foot of the allegory of Abundance, a tree (perhaps the Della Rovere oak) is visible, while in the lateral decorations, below the grotesque masks, are present two coats of arms bearing a pair of dolphins.

Comparative literature: AA. VV. “European Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Highlights of the Collection”, New Haven/London 2006, p. 17 fig. 4;
L. Calzona, file 137, in M.G. Barberini, M.S. Sconci (cured by), “Guida al Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia”, Rome 2009, p. 123.

Starting Price

Euro 8.000,00


First session 1-86 15/06/21


Second session 87-174 15/06/21


Third session 175-262 16/06/21


Fourth session 263-345 16/06/21



11 - JUNE 14TH