In the middle decades of the 15th century, artists in Florence and its surrounding territories diversified their production to meet the desires of the region’s swelling mercantile classes. In addition to devotional works, these patrons sought new kinds of art, such as portraits and painted furnishings, to adorn their residences. Uccello’s Battle of San Romano, which celebrated a recent military victory, was part of an exceptionally ambitious commission for the Bartolini Salimbeni family palace. Smaller works treating ancient or mythological subjects also had a commemorative function, often marking an important event such as a wedding or a birth.
Religious faith, however, remained the bedrock of civic and familial life. Both the paintings by Piero della Francesca in this room formed part of larger altarpieces for churches in his native town of Borgo San Sepolcro. Benozzo Gozzoli’s altarpiece originally stood in an oratory belonging to a youth confraternity, a religious brotherhood whose members gathered regularly to pray, sing hymns, perform charitable work or process through the streets on feast days. Domenico Veneziano’s pair of saints are fragments of a frescoed tabernacle, a type of shrine found on the city’s streets.