When Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora painted “The Combat of Love and Chastity” sometime between 1475 and 1500, he was likely illustrating two of the poet Petrarch’s “Triumphs,” translating the allegories into a visual battle of love and the thing that quells it.
In “The Triumph of Chastity,” Petrarch writes,
Chastitie binds the winged god,
And makes him subject to her rod.
When to one yoke at once I saw the height
Of Gods and men subdu’d by Cupids might
/I took example from their cruel fate,
And by their sufferings eas’d my owne hard state.
In del Fora’s painting, love’s arrow is broken on Chastity’s shield and the latter, a vision of her namesake sturdily cloaked in white, waves the chain with which she will bind her foe, naked and vulnerable. The London’s National Gallery’s website states that the work is part of a series, “probably made for a piece of Florentine furniture towards the end of the 15th century.”
It’s unclear if British bed maker Savoir Beds’ National Gallery Collection, which debuted earlier this year, was an attempt to accomplish the painter’s vision. But, incidentally, they have, centuries later, and the results are available to you if you’ve anywhere between 16,000 and 30,000 pounds or the kind of taste that precludes financial discernment. Savoir Beds, known for their hefty price tag and their extraordinary contents (think cashmere made from the necks of Mongolian goats), have partnered with home décor specialist Andrew Martin and London’s National Gallery to create custom beds, each upholstered with artwork on the headboard and the base. “The Combat of Love and Chastity” is one choice, but you can make your own: every single artwork owned by The National Gallery can be reproduced onto a selection of handmade beds, in (as per the project’s press release) “a selection of three fabrics from a lustrous velvet, textured linen viscose and classic cotton.” The Felix Savoir No. 4, embroidered with “The Combat of Love and Chastity” is £16,037; Claude Monet’s “Water-Lilies, Setting Sun” (1907), spread across the Harlech Savoir No. 2, will cost you £29,587.
The image is cropped to fit the headboard and flow its way down to the base, a blunted waterfall of a painting, and the finishings are personalized; maybe a detail is accentuated — a color, a texture, with different trims and upholstering on the bed itself to match. Either way, “Savoir collaborates with the National Gallery to guarantee every design keeps the essence and integrity of the Gallery,” with Martin printing every commission in the United Kingdom. They’re calling it “the fine art of sleeping beautifully.”
But why now — why this sort of patrician indulgence? Alistair Hughes, Savoir Beds’ Managing Director, told Hyperallergic over email that “our clients and artisans have always seen our mattresses and designs as works of art.” That they’re a brand that primarily creates bespoke products means they’ve taken the concept to its logical extreme.