Chests and cupboards

Most items of furniture can trace their ancestry back to the chest: chests gave rise to the chair, sofa, trunk and cupboard. A cassone is a large box in which to place valuable items and it closes with a lid. Cassoni were important items of furniture in 15th- and 16th-century households as repositories for valuable items. Richly inlaid and carved examples were often given as wedding gifts. The earliest cassone in the Rijksmuseum collection was both a storage box and a seat.

Like a chest, a cupboard is a place to store things, although it has doors and (raised) legs. Most of the Rijksmuseum’s cupboards were made in the Netherlands, although some were made in the Dutch colonies. The collection includes what has been called the Night Watch among cupboards, a 16th-century Gothic sideboard with exquisite carving, and the cabinet of Amalia van Solms, richly decorated with tortoiseshell and ivory. One of the finest pieces is an 18th-century apothecary’s cabinet, with contents.

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