The entrance to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo is graced with a magnificent bust (1572) of Cosimo I de' Medici (r. 1537-74). Cosimo commissioned the bust, the work of Giovanni Bandini (1540-99), to celebrate his receipt of a title he had long coveted, that of grand duke of Tuscany.
Cosimo was crowned grand duke by Pope Pius V (r. 1566-72) on March 5th, 1570, in the Sistine Chapel. The title would give him precedence over all the other duchies in Italy; henceforth, he would only have to bend his knee to popes, emperors and kings.
Two cherubs support the grand ducal coronet, on the fascia of which an inscription records the awarding of the title by Pope Pius V. The bust is surrounded by the emblematic balls of the Medici family and, at its base, a lion holds in its mouth the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, one of the most prestigious Orders in Europe, of which Cosimo was a member.