Florence Accademia, exhibition 2010: 'Virtu d'Amore, Pittura Nuziale nel Quattrocento Fiorentino'

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The Academy Gallery, Florence - 'Nuptial Art' exhibition, June 8th - November 1st 2010 ** extended until 12th December 2010

It's, ermm, a collection of headboards. There you go. What more do you need to know?

The Florentine Renaissance bedroom was a temple to art, to tradition, to ritual, to family and to love, and no more was this celebrated than in the sumptuously ornate spalliere - headboards - and bedroom chests, such as the Accademia's Cassone Adimari.

The nuptial paintings were far from being titallatory, serving as they did to reinforce messages of warning as well as encouragement for the room's occupants to live lives of exemplary conduct, testimony to the importance of husband and wife and family. The works draw on religion, classical mythology, fabled history and contemporary literature to serve up themes on all aspects of love, from devotion and denial (for women, natch), duty, the triumph of love over hardship, and the risks of love as sexual beguilement (again, woman, evil temptress, man, weak fool).

There is also a section dedicated to family pride, where images were often used to decorate deschi da parto - birth platters - a noted example being the one honouring the birth of the noted Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent. The exhibition is organised in conjunction with the Horne Museum, and features works by Botticelli, Filippino Lippi and Pesellino; the Horne museum has loaned a collection of painted chests, and there are numerous pieces on special loan from private owners.

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