The paintings in this room were made in preparation for fresco decorations in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence.
The Neapolitan artist Luca Giordano was commissioned to decorate the ceilings of the Galleria and adjacent Library when he went to Florence in 1682–83. The newly-built Galleria was intended to house the Riccardi’s 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. It was this skill of working at great speed that had earned him the nickname ‘Fa Presto’ (meaning ‘does it quickly’).
The paintings 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.