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Master of Marradi, The Story of the Schoolmaster of Falerii

Key facts
Full title The Story of the Schoolmaster of Falerii
Artist Master of Marradi
Artist dates late 15th century
Date made late 15th century
Medium and support Egg tempera on carved and gilded wood
Dimensions 38.4 × 127.6 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Misses Lindsay, 1912
Inventory number NG3826
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Story of the Schoolmaster of Falerii
Master of Marradi

This is a cassone, or wedding chest, a traditional part of the furnishing of a wealthy Renaissance home. Pairs of chests were often purchased by the groom as part of the ‘counter-dowry’ and the paintings on them often told moral tales suitable for prosperous families.

Here the wicked schoolmaster of Falerii tries to betray his city by offering a besieging general a group of children as hostages, but is refused. Although drawn from classical literature, the story has been reworked to make it appealing to contemporary Italians – everyone is in versions of fifteenth-century dress, and Falerii is shown as a walled medieval town rather than a classical city.

Although cassoni were made throughout Italy, they have been particularly associated with Tuscany and Florence. The artist, the so-called Master of Marradi, was a follower of Domenico Ghirlandaio and specialised in depicting historical scenes with figures in contemporary dress.

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