The Meek And Mighty BrideRepresentations of Esther, Old Testament Queen of Persia, on Fifteenth-Century Italian Marriage Furnitureby Anna Drummond
Cassone and spalliere panels depicting the Old Testament Book of Esther were produced by a number of Florentine artists during the fifteenth century. The workshops of Jacopo Sellaio; Filippino Lippi and Marco del Buono Giamberti and Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso present Esther as a humble and virtuous queen. Their choice of scenes from the text and distinctive characterisation of the heroine can be interpreted in light of the purpose and function of cassone and spalliere in fifteenth-century Florence, in particular the association of such items with marriage. Representations of Esther can also be interpreted in light of contemporary sources on female education. These recommended depictions of righteous heroines as useful in promoting virtuous behaviour in women, and discussed Esther as an example of obedience and good conduct. In this context, representations of Esther on such marriage furniture can be interpreted as presenting didactic lessons for Renaissance brides.
Anna Drummond is a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Melbourne, Australia.