A rare, cedar, cassone dated 1596, with mythical pokerwork work decoration from the Azores

September 18, 2019 2:45 pm Published by

The plank top has a moulded edge. The front is decorated with top panels containing acanthus leaves terminating in griffin heads either side of a central escutcheon with a working lock. Panels containing stylised roundels at each end. There is a central panel below decorated with, either a primitive wild cat or deer amongst foliage, and panels containing mythical birds either side. The end panels repeat of the griffin ornament. The inside lid bears initials and the date ‘1596’, The lower moulding is plain and the chest stands on bun feet with castors. The pin hinges replaced, the candlebox removed. Excellent original colour and patina. Azores 1596

I have left this cassone on its castors but, in my opinion, it would be improved by removing them.

Length 140 cm., 4ft 7 in.,
Height 69 cm., 2ft., 3in.,
Depth 56 cm., 1ft., 10 in.,

The decoration, imagery and interior cypher are characteristic of pieces from the Azores which are extremely rare. These chests were made from cedar specifically for storing their much prized and valued hangings, clothing and linens, since the wood repels moths and the sweet fragrance delicately scents fabrics.

The decoration was made with a hot poker which required great skill and confidence from the artist. This cassone has an abundance of naive charm with the fluid portrayal of mythological beasts. It a very early example of its type, bearing the date ‘1596’ The cedar has developed a soft, warm lustrous colour and patina over time.

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This post was written by joecollinson