Boxes are an invention that probably predates recorded history, but were certainly present after the Neolithic revolution with a more sedentary lifestyle. By the Middle Ages every home had at least one chest given as part of the bride’s dowry. The chests in the Middle Ages were usually pretty simple affairs but that all changed in the Renaissance. The emergence of a wealthy merchant class meant that the the chest had to be more ornate, more expensive and bigger. The cassone (“large chest”) was one of the trophy furnishings of rich merchants and aristocrats in Italian culture, from the Late Middle Ages onward. The cassone was the most important piece of furniture of that time. It was given to a bride and placed in the bridal suite. It would be given to the bride during the wedding, and it was the bride’s parents’ contribution to the wedding. The casson pictured above would have been an extravagant wedding gift. I have collected photos of a number of beautiful chests and cabinets from around the world, from different time periods and I will show them here along with some very interesting history.
The Palace of Tau in Reims, France, was the palace of the Archbishop of Reims. It is located next to Notre-Dame de Riems Cathedral in Reims. It is associated with the Kings of France, whose coronations were held in the nearby cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims. A large Gallo-Roman villa originally occupied the site of the palace in the 6th and 7th centuries, and the villa later became a Carolingian palace. The first documented use of the name Tau dates to 1131, and derives from the plan of the building, which resembles the letter Τ (tau, in the Greek alphabet). Most of the early building has disappeared: the oldest part remaining is the chapel, from 1207. The building was largely rebuilt in Gothic style between 1498 and 1509, and modified to its present Baroque appearance between 1671 and 1710 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte. It was damaged by a fire on 19 September 1914, and not repaired until after the Second World War. The Palace was the residence of the Kings of France before their coronations in Notre-Dame de Reims. The King was dressed for the coronation at the palace before proceeding to the cathedral; afterwards, a banquet was held at the palace. The first recorded coronation banquet was held at the palace in 990, and the most recent in 1825.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is one of the foremost museums in the world, with rich holdings comprising artworks from seven millennia – from Ancient Egypt to the late 18th century. The collections of Renaissance and Baroque art are of particular importance. The main building shown above houses the Picture Gallery, the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, the Coin Collection, and the Kunstkammer that reopened in March 2013. It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz.