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Furniture paintings often told their viewers how to behave, and what to avoid. The 'spalliera' panel above the chest shows Mucius Scaevola. He plunged his hand into a fire to convince Rome’s enemies of her citizens’ bravery.
The main painting set into the chest tells the cautionary tale of a teacher who offered his pupils as hostages to his city’s enemies. He was caught and punished.
This was an important message for Florentine Renaissance women like Vaggia Nerli, who were instructed that their principal responsibility was to care for their husband’s children.
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