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Gallery of Maps

The Gallery of Maps(Galleria delle carte geografiche) is a gallery located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard in the Vatican containing a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti. The gallery was commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII.

Following the predessesor's descriptions such as [Alessandro Valignano & Duarte de Sande, “Colloquium XXIV.” In De Missione Legatorum Iaponen sium ad Romanam curiam, rebusq; in Europa, ac toto itinere animaduersis dialogus ex ephemeride ipsorvm legatorvm collegtvs, & in sermonem latinvm versus ab Eduardo de Sande sacerdote Societatis Iesv]Our researches during 2004-2017 were based on the hypothesis that the screens were placed in the Gallery of Maps after being gifted to Gregory XIII on March 24, 1585. 

However, during our research in 2018 by Roux and Ōta, we came up with a new theory that the screens were actually, placed in the Gallery of Cosmograpy ( galleria de cosmographia) by re-verifying geological references in historical records. 


Until when the screens were in the gallery?

During the 2007 research, the team narrowed down the target period, when the screens were removed from the gallery of map, to between 1592 and 1750 by following two factors. 

1) In 1592 Philip van Winghe made two drawings of Azuchi Screens. 

2) The screens were not listed in the Taja Agostino's [Descrizione del Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano, 1750], which is known for its meticulous records of the Vatican including the gallery of map. 

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007, p24]

Renovation History of the Gallery of Maps

In the gallery of maps, restoration work was being continued under Clements VIII, Urban VIII, and Pope Innocent X.  It is likely that screens were relocated on the occasion of such renovation. In the research of 2007 we found out that there were four major renovations of the gallery during the above period. 

1) Clemente VIII (1592-1605)
2) Urbanus VIII (1630-1644)
3) Innocent X (1644-1655)
4) Clemente XI (1700-1721)

1) The first renovation: Clemente VIII (1592-1605)

The accounting records for the restoration under Pope Clement VIII are the most important historical source to figure out the location and content of the restoration. As a result of scrutinizing the historical materials, an estimator was appointed in April 1591 as the first step of the restoration work, and since then, the outline of the restoration contents, cost, and selection of the implementer has been decided. The possibility of relocating the Azuchi screens needs to be examined according to the situation of the restoration. Below is the list of accounting records, which is the most important information for such examination. 

From these records, the renovation project under Clement VIII was a large scale that involves the retouching of maps and historical paintings, installation of wooden shutters on widows, ironworks, and roofing.  the renovation started after April 1591 and completed between Sep 24, 1592 and Jan 8, 1596. It is reasonable to imagine that scaffolds were installed to work on the painting on the walls on both sides of the gallery, and also for the installation of the window shutters, they must have worked from inside and outside of the wall facing the courtyard.  

Daniello Bartoli mentioned in the annual Jesuit report of 1660 the screens were hunged in the gallery, which suggests that the screens were possibly removed from the gallery on the occasion of the renovations, although, the slight possibility that the screens were placed in the gallery after completion of renovation remains.  

1. Bertolotti, Artisti Lomvardi a Roma nei Secoli XV, XVI, e XVII, Studi e Ricerche negli Archivi Romani, Milano, 1881, vol, p122
   "in 1591 April, Girolamo Muziano, a painter, and Giacomo Stella were appointed as gallery restoration estimator"

2. ASR: Camerale I, Tesoreria Generale. b.1575, f118v
   "Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Pietro Oldorado for retouching multiple sections of the gallery: 15 scudi, Sep 24, 1592"
   "l'a di 24 settembre 1592. sc.15a Pietro Oldorado pittore per far accommodate luoghi della Galleria....sc15."

3. ASR: Camerale I, Tesoriere Generale. b.1575, f.128
   "Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Pietro Oldorado for retouching multiple sections of the gallery: 90 scudi, November 1952"
   "E a di 24 detto (nombre1592) sc.90 a Pietro Oldorado pittore per esto di diverse piture fatte per la 

4. ASR: Camerale I, b.942: Mandati Camerali 1592-1593, f.116r.
   "Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Nicolo Guarisco, Santi Bongianni for fabrication cost of wooden window shutters for the
     gallery: 1000 scudi, December 1952"

5. ASR: Camerale I, b.942, f.n.d.
   "Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Natalis Fabro Ferraris for various ironworks...80 scudi, Dec 4, 1592"

6. ASR: Camerale I, b.942 f.128v.
   "Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Pietro Oldorado for completion of the paintings of the gallery: 190 scudi, Dec 21, 1592"

7. ASR: Caemerale I, b.943, f.48v.
   "Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Christofano Foglia for, roofing technician, for roof tile materials and roofing labor: 50 scudi,
    Oct 26, 1593. 

8. ASR: Camerale I, b.943, f,61v.
"Order of payment by the general of treasury at the Vatican to Pietro Oldorado, signed by Clemente VIII for the painting of gallery of maps and the apostolic
   palace... 100 scudi, August 23 1595"

9. Bertolotti, Artisti Lombardi a Roma nei Secoli XV, XVI e XVII, Studi e Ricerche negli Archivivi Romani, Milano, 1881, vol.1, p.122.
   "A notarized payment receipt by three painters, Gio.Antonio da Valese, Giacomo Stella, and Annibale Corradini for the completed renovation of decorations
   in the gallery of maps after receiving the estimate by Pietro Oldorado, Jan 8, 1596"

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007, p24-29]

2) The second renovation: Urbanus VIII (1630-1637)

From 1630 to 1637 more extensive and larger-scale than the first restoration work was carried out under Pope Urban VIII. Domenico Castelli, the architect of the apostolic palace, published the record of the renovation with large illustrations, from which the following are quoted. 

"On top of the gallery, a low attic was built, from the Pier Tower to the Wind Tower, completely changing the appearance of this part of the palace." 

"Pope Urban VIII has completely restored upper part, inside and outside [of the gallery],
added new maps, corrected existing maps based on new knowledge, added new historical paintings and inscriptions. He put in the glass and the roof. Until then, it was exposed to water, wind and other harm."

[BAV,, f27.<Piante di tutti gli Edifici eretti....dalla felice memorial di Urbanuo VIII, diegnati di Dominico Castelli]

Lucas Holstenio, a German humanist, likely acted a leading role in the scientific aspect of the renovations. In the letter to Duke Peiresc dated Oct 4, 1632, he wrote that " Even though, I worked through the summer, I could only restore the Italian map. From May 2  1636 to Dec 4, 1637, I painted Lazio, Patrimonio di San Pietro, Tuscia Suburbicaria" In addition, Pope Urban VIII restored not only paintings but also decorations, so the project continued from 1630 to 1637.

Following are the payment records related to the second renovation from ASR. 

1. ASR: Camerale I, b.1894: Depositeria genrale di R.C.A, Entrata e  Uscita [microfilm depo.Gen.bobina 21(b.1893-1896),p.129a]
    Nov 10・Dec 21, 200 scudi.
    Feb 3,1631, 100 scudi, including construction cost of the apostolic palace.
    Mar 8・Nov 26,1631, 1850 scudi.
    Jan 26-Jun 15,1632  300 scudi.
    Aug 2,1633, 1290 scudi, including gilding since 1628 and partial cost of painting. 
    Aug 18-Dec 12,1633, 1450 scudi.
    Aug 3,1635, 250 scudi, including for painting, gilding, and overseeing plate engraving.
    Oct 11-Dec 22, 1635, 600 scudi.
    Oct 19,1636, 100 scudi for the gallery of maps and room of Charlemagne.
    Nov 16-Dec 15,1636, 450 scudi.
    Mar 22, 1637, 200 scudi, to Simone Lagi, for painting/gilding. 
2. ASR: Camerale I, Dep.Gen., 1633, p.12.
    Jan 18,1633, 40 scudi to Vincenzo Adriani for painting of the gallery.
3. ASR: Camerale Mandati 1633-35, f.243-452(=Camerale I, Dep.Gen.,1634, 24gen-13 nov, p.15-283)
    Jan 23-Nov 7, 1634, 1150 scudi, to M.T. Montagna for labor in the gallery of map.

4. ASR: Camerale I, Dep.Gen., 1635, p.72.
    Apr 8,1635, 295 scudi, to Simone Lagi and the technicians of gilding for gilding in the gallery and former ceiling of the apostolic palace.

5. ASR:Camerale I, Dep.Gen., 1637, p.169.
    Jul 11,1637, 743.60 scudi, to Alfonso Paolino, Fabritio Abbruzzese, Raimondo for the typography in the gallery of maps.

6. ASR: Camerale I, Dep.Gen., 1632, p.16.
   Jan 26, 1632, 200 scudi to Tischlern Nave, Bartolomen for carpentary job in the gallery of maps.

7. ASR: Camerale I, Dep.Gen., 1633, p.175, ASR: Camerale Mandati, 1633-1635, p.211-96.
    Jul 18, 1633, 300 scudi, for the gallery of maps and apostolic palace, Sep 3-Dec 3, 1633, 850 scudi, to Niccolo Scala, a plasterer.

8. (reference missing)
    Jun 5, 1637, 9.50 scudi, to Simone lagi and Niccolo Scala for the roof restoration of apostolic palace.

9. ASR: Camerale Madati, 1633-1635, p.1249(=Camerale I, Dep.Gen., p.206)
    Jan 21, 1633, 10 scudi,
    Aug 27, 1633, 20 scudi, for jobs in the gallery and Civetavecchia for draughting to Domenico Parasacchi, a draughter. 

10. ASR: Camerale Mandati, 1633-1635, p.179(=Camerale I, Dep.Gen., 1633, 13 oct, p.268).
     Mar 31,1632, Dec 21,1634, 950 scudi, to Agostino Tassi, painter, for creating/painting new maps in the gallery.

11. (reference missing)
      Jul 8, 1637, 290 scudi, to Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi for painting the ceiling of the gallery.

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007, p24-32]

3) The third renovation: Innocent X (1644-1655)

Subsequent restoration projects continued from April 1647 to July 1650 under the supervision of G.B.Magni. At this time, Ferrara, Bologna, and other city maps were modified and restored to suit the situation at the time. Some maps have been added or removed between Pope Urban VIII and Pope Innocent X. Again, Holstein may have supervised it.

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007, p25]

4) The fourth renovation: Clemente XI (1700-1721)

Additional restoration was necessary after a century from the third renovation in the 1720s during the Clemente XI era.
Loret, M., "I Lavori artistic nel vaticano durante il Pontificato di Clemente XI" , in : Archivivi d'Italia, 1936 pp.54-59

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007, p25]


As a result of the above investigations on the restoration history of the gallery of maps, it was found that the restoration under the reign of Pope Clement VIII extended to the retouching of mural paintings, the construction of window shutters, and fittings. Although the restoration of floor stones could be confirmed in the secondary record, the evidence in the archive could not be found by the end of the survey. If the floor stones had been removed, the Azuchi screens would have had to be removed.

The second renovation project during the reign of Pope Urbanus VIII was even larger scale, remodeling roofs, installing glasses on the openings, from which it is speculated that the gallery was exposed to open air in the 1630s. 

For future research, we should look into the records between 1592 and 1596 because it is highly possible that Pope Clemente VIII ordered to relocate/remove the Azuchi screens on the occasion of the renovations. Subsequently, the storages of Clemente VIII should be investigated.  

In the case that Clemente VIII brought the screens to the gallery of maps, the records of Urbanus VIII should be checked for the possibility of removing the screens from the gallery for his larger scale of renovation of it. 

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007, p32-33]

* As mentioned earlier currently, we are investigating the Gallery of Cosmography, not the Gallery of Maps, based on our new hypothesis.  Please check the link. 

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