The entrance hall immediately brings the visitor face to face with the old atmosphere of a medieval home, from where there is a glimpse of an inner courtyard with well.
On the left is the stairway that led to the first floor, rebuilt by Nello Bemporad in its original position.
St Christopher, at the side of the main door, is frequently represented in private buildings on account of his protective function (he is present in the same position near the exit of Palazzo Davanzati in Florence and in Palazzo Beni in Gubbio): it was a widespread belief that the saint protected the devout against sudden death, which would have prevented them from receiving the last rites, thereby dooming them to eternal damnation.
The illusory nature of the paintings – the imitation of materials (fabrics, tapestries and, in this case, marble) or spaces opening on to lush nature – is the element shared by every room in the palazzo. In the entrance corridor the decoration on the vault, with gold lilies on a blue background, and the marble wall panels were executed and later retouched by different workers; initially Bartolomeo di Bertozzo with his companion Angelo and subsequently by the painter Arrigo di Niccolò.
The painted lunette with Christ Blessing, over the entrance door to the room with two beds, in view of its style, was recently thought to refer to Tommaso del Mazza. This painter, who had already worked for Francesco Datini between March and October 1384, was contacted in 1391, together with his companion Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, to create the tabernacle in the corner of the garden (the original of which, now replaced by a copy, is preserved in the Museo di Pittura Murale in San Domenico).
A sudden illness, however, obliged Tommaso to resign the commission and the work was later undertaken by his companion in August 1391.
For this reason and due to the complete lack of documents similar to those found for other maestros, the presence of Tommaso del Mazza in Prato has always been rejected. In actual fact, we know that the painter took part in negotiations with the merchant in July 1391 and precisely the lack of mention of the lunette in the detailed reports endorse the proposed attribution.
St Christopher was begun by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini in 1391, and substantially reflects his style; it was terminated by collaborators in January 1394.