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 Gallery of Cosmography

The Gallery of Cosmography was built by Pius IV in 1560s, then it was completed by Gregorius XIII in 1585, who was influenced by the "Cabinet of Curiousities" in the Palazzo Vacchio in Florence. There were 13 paintings of the map from various cities across Europe on the Westside wall, and the map of Japan, Neue Espãna Antile, Asia, Africa are painted on the Northside wall, and paintings of North and South hemisphere were painted at the corner. It is believed that the maps were painted/managed by Egnazio Danti, who also managed the paintings at the galleria carte geografiche.

During the time of Pope Pius IV, the Catholic Church was exposed to attack and separation by protestants such as Luther and Calvin. On the other hand, the Age of Discovery began, and it was also the time when the world unknown to the West, such as Asia, Africa, and the United States, was "discovered" and colonized. By ordering to paint the world map, Pius IV showed his will to propagate Christianity by Catholic. The depiction of Asia, Africa, and the United States as opposed to the existing Europe was an indication of such a papal intention.

apostolico vaticana_2.jpg
apostolico vaticana_1.jpg

Through our research in 2018 by Roux Elaine and Tomoko Ota, we have come to the hypothesis that the Azuchi screens were first placed in the Gallery of Cosmography, not the Gallery of Maps.  Despite past researches focused on the gallery of maps as the place where the screens were placed after the embassies met Gregorius XIII, if one reads de Sante's "On the Mission of the Japanese Ambassadors to the Roman Curia in Europe", carefully, it is reasonable to think that "Gallery" refers to the Galleria della Cosmografia, which is next to the Pope's room and leads to the Belvedere Gardens.  Because of the character of the gallery, the fact that the embassies spent quite some time in the gallery to see the paintings with the guide, the space is adjacent to Pope's room and leads to Beldevere Garden, and Philip van Winghe wrote it as "Galleries" ( plural), It seems that all the above facts back up our hyperthesis. 

[Eliane Roux-Tomoko Ota: ASRN report 4.8.2018, p.35-37]

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, written c. 1587-1589, published 1590


Upon presenting this gift, although it was very far from adequate for His Holiness’ grand majesty, His Holiness clearly showed an air of great satisfaction; thereafter we were graciously shown the deepest chamber in the palace and His personal study, a place where could commit himself to the study of various literature. This chamber was truly a place to behold; all over there were varied, numerous, and splendidly executed paintings which invariably caught one’s eyes, [...]From there, we were brought to a type of hallway named the Gallery. There was a pathway for the personal use of His Holiness which passed through into a truly elegant garden called the Belvedere. As the view from here was beautiful and incomparable, this name, the meaning of which is “a stage with a commanding view,” was given to it. The Gallery was truly magnificent; as well as various relief sculptures hanging from the walls, the walls themselves had gold and in other various parts a plethora of colors applied to them; [...] His Holiness the Pope ordered that the several paintings on which Azuchiyama was depicted were to be displayed in this magnificent hall. This was to show that our gifts were to be counted as great objects...

[Midori Wakakuwa, Kiyono Shimbo, Paola Cavaliere: Azuchi city screens research project report, February 15, 2007], [Mark Erdmann: The Azuchi Screens & Their European Vestiges, 2018, Appendix], [Eliane Roux-Tomoko Ota: ASRN report 4.8.2018]

Gualtieri, Relationi della venuta degli ambasciatori giapponesi…, 1586, p. 90:


...they gifted some present from their countries, which received Holy Holiness with joy, [...] the pope forward to the boys, then he took them to some of his rooms, and showed them some ritual objects, afterwards, he led them to the door of a long and very large gallery in person, which he had built, and adorned with paintings of various cities and countries. 

Map of Japan

According to TAJA Agostino sanese's, Descrizione del Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano, opera postuma, Roma 1750, on the Northside wall, there were three cityscape paintings paired with the map. One of them was the city of Japan, which probably was a city ruled by a Christian lord. Considering that the Japanese city was painted in the 1580s,  We can not eliminate the possibility that the city was actually, Azuchi. Unfortunately, the painting of the Japanese city has been destroyed in the 19th century at the time of restoration. It is thought that Japan was erased from the wall, When Philippo Bonale, a geographer, researched the gallery and found errors in the hemisphere map on the Westside wall.  Our research on the Gallery of Cosmography should be continued in order to trace the record of the installation/de-installation. 

*Above hyperthesis does not apply to specifying the location where Philip van Winghe made his drawings of Azuchi screens because there are possibilities that screens were not permanently installed in a gallery considering its fragility. 

galleria della Cosmografia_2.jpg

Referenced documents:

Almagia, R., Le Pitture Geografiche Murali della Terza Loggia e di Altre Sale Vaticane, Città del Vaticano, 1955.

Banfi, F., “La loggia della Cosmografia nel Palazzo Vaticano”, in «L’Urbe», 14, 1, 1951, pp. 1-17. 
Banfi, F., “The cosmographic loggia in the Vatican Palace”, in «Imago Mundi», 9, Stockholm, 1952, pp. 23-30.

Bertolotti, Artisti Lombardi a Roma nei secoli XV, XVI e XVII: studi e ricerche negli archivi romani, 3 voll., Forni, 1881 (1985).

Fiorani, F., The Marvel of Maps: Art, Cartography and Politics in Renaissance Italy, New Haven/ London, Yale Universuty Press, 2005. Chattard, G. P., Nuova descrizione del Vaticano o sia della sacrosanta basilica di S. Pietro, II, Roma, 1762-1767, pp. 235, 272-284.

Hess, J., “Le logge di Gregorio XIII nel Palazzo Vaticano: i pittori”, in «Illustrazione Vaticana», VII, 4, 1936, pp. 161-166.

Hess, J., “Le loggie di Gregorio XIII in Vaticano: l’architettura ed i caratteri della decorazione”, Kunstgeschichtliche Studien zu Renaissance und Barock, I, Roma, 1967, pp. 117-122.

La Galleria delle Carte Geografiche in Vaticano, a cura di L. Gambi, A. Pinelli, 3 voll., Modena, 1994. 
Orbaan, J. A. F., Rome onder Clemens VIII (Aldobrandini): 1592-1605, ‘s-Gravenhage, 1920. Pistolesi, E., Il Vaticano descritto e illustrato, VIII, Roma, 1829. 
Taja, A., Descrizione del Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano, Roma, 1750, p. 263. Thomassy, R.,"Les papes géographes et la cartographie du Vatican", in «Acta Cartographica», 7, 1970, pp.  433-462. 

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