The Farnese Ceiling, as completed by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) and his studio, was considered the unrivalled masterpiece of European buon fresco painting: as a pattern book of heroic figure design, and a model of technical procedure. It was later felt to reflect a change in aesthetic in Rome from Mannerism to Baroque. Early-Baroque innovations include the fictitious breakthrough of the wall at the corners, as the illusionistic frescoed paintings, appear to hang from the ceiling.
The loves of the Gods
- Central Ceiling Fresco
- Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna. Bacchus and Ariadne are accompanied by musicians, as each is seated on a Triumphal chariot.
- Jupiter and Juno
- Jason and the Golden Fleece
- Homage to Diana
- Glaucus and Scylla
- The Cyclops Polyphemus
- Polyphemus Furioso
- Polyphemus Innamorata
- The winged messenger Mercury and the shepherd Paris accompanied by a dog.
- Apollo and Hyacinthus
- Ganymede and the Eagle
- Perseus and Andromeda
- The Fall of Icarus
- Aurora and Cephalus
The scenes are populated by the gods and heroes of Roman mythology with the fabulous events and tableaux including examples of various types of transformation from the narrative poem Metamorphoses written by Ovid: A subheading of several stories is Gli Amori Degli Dei.
- 1597 - Annibale Carracci was commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Palazzo Farnese using the theme, the love of the Gods. Cardinal Edoardo Farnese chose the subject of love to mark the wedding of the Duke of Parma to the grand-niece of Pope Clement VIII, Margherita Aldobrandini. The work took 11 years to complete.
- 1602 - The Bolognese painter Domenichino went to Rome, where he joined the colony of artists working under Annibale Carracci at the palace. His only undisputed work there is the Maiden with the Unicorn fresco over the entrance of the gallery.
- 2011 - The frescoed ceiling is to undergo restoration, at a cost of 1m Euros (£870,000), funded by the World Monuments Fund, the French Embassy in Italy and the Fondation de l'Orangerie pour la Philanthropie Individuelle.