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Stunning Wall Map of Rome

Fine example of the 1705 edition of Giovanni Battista Falda's masterful twelve-sheet map of Rome.

First engraved during the papacy of Innocent XI (1676-1689) by Giovanni Battista Falda for Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi (1676), the map was periodically revised and updated in 1697, 1705, 1730 and 1756. Each new state included additional churches and notable buildings.

Falda’s east-oriented map was “widely acclaimed as the most complete and accurate visual record of baroque Rome” (Maier, p. 165) and it was in wide usage until the mid-eighteenth century.

This ornate plan of the city shows its layout in the early-eighteenth century in intricate detail. On each block, certain buildings are labeled. Others are numbered, indicating a corresponding number in the three keys that list 484 sites on this state alone. The lettering in the keys was engraved by Giorgio Widman.

Many decorative elements line the sides of the map. These include a reference map showing Rome and the agricultural region surrounding it. At lower center is a cartouche containing images of nine prominent churches, including St. Peter’s and St. Maria Maggiore.

In the upper left is a spectacular vignette above a dedication to Pope Innocent VI (1611-1689, r. 1676-1689). Religion sites on a throne of clouds, holding a temple, the papal cross, and the keys of St. Peter. Next to her is Justice. The image was drawn by Carlo Maratti and engraved by Pietro Aquila. Born Benedetto Odescalchi, Innocent dedicated his papacy to the reform, moral and administrative, of the Roman Curia. Farther afield, he supported the liberation of Hungary from the Ottoman Empire. He was beatified in 1956.   

In the opposite corner is a handsome cartouche with the coat of arms of the various districts of Rome, fourteen in all. Within this is a paragraph from de Rossi to all the noble readers of Rome who have patronized him over the years. He recounts all the Rome-centric books he has published, many with engravings by Falda, subtly advertising his wares while flattering the viewer. Rossi ends it with, “So please accept these labors of mine: so that I can continue to serve you with new prints and you will be happy.”

Wall maps of Rome

Rome was the subject of several wall maps in the early modern period. In the 1480s, Florentine engraver Francesco Rosselli created the first printed image of the city; it is known only through a reference in an inventory, as a physical example does not survive. At least nine images based upon the Rosselli were made before 1569.

Other maps and city images followed, namely those by Leonardo Bufalini (1551), Mario Cartaro (1576), Antonio Tempesta (1593), and Matteo Greuter (1618). Giovanni Battista Falda made a previous map of the Eternal City in 1667. Each of these appeared in several states or they inspired derivatives.

This map, first made by Falda in 1676, built on the work of these predecessors. It proved popular and was widely admired. Samuel Pepys owned an example and it is visible in Sutton Nicholl’s ink and wash drawing of the Pepys library in 1693.  


All five states of the Falda twelve-sheet map of Rome are very rare on the market. RBH notes three examples of the 1676 state, all in the early 1980s (1981, 1982 and 1985). There are no auction or dealer records of the map in nearly forty years.

OCLC locates a single example of the 1705 state in the Bibliotheque National de France.

A mid-nineteenth-century states also appears occasionally on the market, but examples of the early states, like the present example, are vanishingly rare.

Condition Description
12 sheets, joined. Linen-backed. Some chipping and soiling. Uneven toning and some minor loss of image. A bit of uneven toning on the sheets.
Hülsen, Saggio, p. 92, no. 120; S. McPhee, “Falda’s Map as a Work of Art,” The Art Bulletin, vol. 101, no. 2 (2019), pp. 7-28; BNF, Cartes et plans GE DD-2987; J. Maier, Rome Measured and Imagined: Early Modern Maps of the Eternal City. KAP
Giacomo Giovanni Rossi Biography

Giacomo Giovanni Rossi (1627-1691) was an Italian engraver and printer. He worked in Rome, the heir to an important printing business founded by his father, Giuseppe de Rossi (1570-1639). Giuseppe began the press in 1633 and Giovanni and his brother, Giandomenico (1619-1653) took it over upon his death. The brothers expanded the business and by the mid-seventeenth century it was the best-known printing house in Rome.

For his maps, Giovanni worked with Giacomo Cantelli da Vignola. They produced the Atlas Mercurio Geografico. The first edition is undated, but the second was issued in 1692, a year after Giovanni’s death. The maps were by Cantelli. The firm also published maps based on those of Nicolas Sanson.

Later, the business passed to Lorenzo Filippo (1682-?). By 1738, the firm was known as Calcografia Camerale, then, from 1870 to 1945, as the Regia Calcografica. Today, the firm is still in business and is called Calcografia Nazionale. It operates as a free museum and offers one of the best collections of prints and plates in the world.