Baron Raoul Kuffner de Diòszegh (1886-1961) was the only son of the successful sugar magnate Baron Karl Kuffner de Diòszegh of
the extensive Austro-Hungarian Kuffner family originally from Lundenburg, Moravia (nowadays Breclav, Czech Republic). A substantial amount of the picture collection of some 150 paintings came from Baron Raoul’s mother’s family, the Counts von Firmian, notably Count Leopold von Firmian, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Baron Raoul inherited the family estate and the sugar factory in 1924 and under the infuence of his mistress Tamara de Lempicka - the famed Art Deco painter - he started exporting his collection from Czechoslovakia in the early 1930s. He subsequently sold all his properties in Central Europe. In 1934 he married his mistress in Zurich and spent their honeymoon in Egypt. In 1938 the couple had had valued a large part of their collection including this cassone at Christie’s in London, but with the approaching war the couple decided to leave for America and left in February 1939.
The Master of Charles of Durazzo has been discussed by many scholars- ultimately Everett Fahy in “Florence and Naples: A Cassone Panel in the Metropolitan Museum of Art”, where he lists the present lot amongst the pictures to be added to the master’s oeuvre (see LIT). Scholars agree that the painter was Florentine, infuenced by Orcagna and his followers. Federico Zeri dates two cassone fronts by the Master (Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Vitetti Collection, Rome) to around 1400-1410, noting that these are among the earliest surviving Florentine Cassone panels. Other examples of cassone panels by the Master of Charles of Durazzo are
now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. Another version of this composition is in the Narodne Museum, Cracow (Czartoryski collection, n. XII – 198, see P. Schubring, Cassoni, Leipzig 1915, plate XIV, fg. 97).
It has been previously noted that the story illustrated might be that from the Gesta Romanorum, in which the son of an Emperor had adulterous relations with his step-mother while his father was away at the wars.