Large chest


Italian (Florence)
about 1475–1500

Object Place: Italy


97.79 x 201.93 x 69.85 cm (38 1/2 x 79 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Walnut with intarsia decoration; Walnut, inlaid with various woods

Not On View





Raised section on top has band of geometric design between mouldings. Front has two panels with mouldings, inlaid with architectural designs in perspective. Floral motive on framing bands, cherub’s head and letter in center. Geometric band above moulded base. Ends paneled with lozenge shaped panels of geometric inlay. In poor condition.

In the bedchambers of noble residences, large chests were used to store clothing and valuable household goods such as silver and bed linens. Beginning in the late fifteenth century, Florentine workshops specialized in walnut chests with intarsia, or inlaid decoration. The intarsia technique involves the inlay of small, shaped pieces of different woods into the ground timber to create geometric patterns or such pictorial decorations as the cityscapes on this chest. Intarsia reached its apogee in Central Italy at this time, when its use extended to the decoration of entire rooms.


1916, Elia Volpi (b. 1858 - d. 1938), Florence; November 22, 1916, Volpi sale, American Art Galleries, New York, lot 323, to A. Seligman [see note 1]. By 1937, Addie Wolff (Mrs. Otto H.) Kahn (d. 1949), New York [see note 2]; October 12, 1943, sold by Mrs. Kahn to the Brummer Gallery, New York; 1944, sold by Brummer to the MFA for $6000. (Accession Date: January 13, 1944)

[1] The name of the buyer is recorded in Roberta Ferrazza, "Palazzo Davanzati e le collezioni di Elia Volpi" (Florence, 1994), 268. [2] Mrs. Kahn first consigned the object to Brummer on February 23, 1937.

Credit Line

Charles K. Cummings Fund