In 1598 Cardinal Odoardo Farnese (1573-1626) commissioned the Bolognese painter Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) to decorate his sculpture gallery with a series of frescoes which, inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses, celebrated the loves of the gods. The frescoes were not completed until 1608 and Annibale was assisted first by his brother Agostino and then by several artists from his workshop, including Giovanni Lanfranco and Domenichino.
The gallery is the most famous room in the Palazzo Farnese, which, since 1874, has been the seat of the French Embassy.
The Palazzo Farnese was begun by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1484-1546) for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. After Sangallo's death in 1546 Cardinal Farnese, who had become Pope Paul lll (r. 1534-49), commissioned Michelangelo (1475-1564) to complete the palazzo.