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One of the most precious Italian Renaissance wooden chests in the Wawel collection. It catches the eye with its form narrowing towards the bottom of the trunk, supported on lion paws, and resembles antique sarcophagi to which it owes its popular name the sarcophagus chest.”

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One of the most precious Italian Renaissance wooden chests in the Wawel collection. It catches the eye with its form narrowing towards the bottom of the trunk, supported on lion paws, and resembles antique sarcophagi to which it owes its popular name the sarcophagus chest.” It was made in the 16th century, in one of the Florentine workshops. It is characterized by low relief ornamentation formed by oblique flutings, softly outlined and ended with volutes. This type of ornamentation is called baccelletto (it resembles a broad bean pod – baccello in Italian) and it is similar to motifs known in architecture, and attributed to Bartolomeo Ammanati’s workshop (1511–1592).
Chests constituted a group of all-purpose furniture which were most popular in homes in the 15th and 16th century interiors. They differed in shape, size, and type of ornamentation, as well as in purpose. They were usually used for storing various kinds of objects. Apart from bedclothes, tablecloths, or dresses, they were used for storing books, silverware and fabrics. Some of them had special compartments to facilitate arranging and finding of small objects. In bedrooms, they were placed near the bed or at the wall, and they were used as seats, instead of chairs and benches. The higher ones served as tables, and the richly ornamented ones decorated interiors. The chest was also an important element of the wedding ceremony. They were commissioned specifically on this occasion, decorated with paintings and gilding, bearing coats of arms of both families, and used for storing the dowry. They were carried through the streets of the town, in a kind of procession, from the bride's family house to the house of her husband.

Elaborated by Stanisława Link-Linczowska (Wawel Royal Castle), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

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