Luca Giordano and the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence
Giordano was born in Naples and was largely active there, though he travelled widely throughout Italy and Spain. He was a prolific painter, adept at painting on a large scale and renowned for working at great speed; a skill that earned him the nickname ‘Fa Presto’ (meaning ‘does it quickly’).
In 1682-83 Giordano went to Florence where he was commissioned to decorate the ceilings of the Galleria and adjacent Library in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The newly-built Galleria was intended to house the Riccardis’ collection of antiquities and serve as a public reception room. Giordano began work on the ceiling in 1682 but was called back to Naples soon afterwards: he did not return to Florence until 1685, whereupon he completed both ceilings within a matter of months
The 10 paintings in this room are probably the 'modelli' (or presentation pieces) for the ceilings, painted by Giordano for his patron to approve the design. Their 17th-century frames are original, indicating that the paintings were hung as independent works in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, where they are recorded until 1822.