In the interior of the Duomo Florentines saw historic witnesses of the Christian faith: the saints shown in stained glass windows, altarpieces and statues. They also saw exponents of their own history, among whom famed military leaders who had commanded the Republic’s armies in battle: professional soldiers known as condottieri (“leaders”). The simultaneous presence of these two categories inside the Cathedral in fact suggested a bond between Christian holiness and civic virtue—between the community of believers and that constituted by the city’s inhabitants.
This room contains paintings once displayed in the Cathedral nave together with fragments of the earliest of the monuments to famous men for which Santa Maria del Fiore is known: the tomb of the condottiere Piero Farnese (1310-1363), adapted from an ancient Roman sarcophagus and originally surmounted by an equestrian statue, as 18th- and 19th-century images recall. Also shown here, along with other works of Marian devotion, is a famous marble Annunciation group carved in the early 15th century for an exterior side-door but then installed inside the Cathedral, where for many years it adorned an altar next to the main portal.