Giovanni Giacomo De’ Rossi

(1627–1691)

Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi – Io. Iacobus de Rubeis

From a prominent family of publishers, Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi was the son of Giuseppe, and the younger brother and successor (in 1653) of Giovanni Domenico. By 1648, at the tender age of twenty-one, he had his own business producing and publishing engravings in Rome. In 1657 de’ Rossi married a rich widow, and his business began to really flourish. His publications include four books of engraved plates of fountains, five books illustrating modern Rome, and two books of architectural elevations of Roman palaces. A papal privilege, granted to him by Alexander VII Chigi, for 1664–1674, effectively gave him a monopoly in the market. 

In 1666 de’ Rossi issued a set of wall maps of the four continents, after Blaeu, and from 1669, published an atlas, the Mercurio Geografico ouero guida geografica in tutte le parti del mondo conforme le tauolegeografiche del Sansone, Baudrant e Cantelli’, edited by Giacomo Cantelli da Vignola. De’ Rossi and Vignola engaged the most prominent engravers working in Rome: Antonio Barbey, Jan L’Huillier, Giorgio Widman, Vincenzo Mariotti, and Giovanni Battista Falda.

In 1675, he secured the prestigious and valuable commission of decorating the papal summer residence, the Castel Gandolfo, with nearly two hundred engraved maps of Europe, America and the city of Rome. That same year, de’ Rossi also dedicated his edition of Frederick de Wit’s large twelve-sheet wall map of the world, Nova totivs terrarvm orbis’ to Queen Christina of Sweden. Having converted to Catholicism, abdicated, and now living in Rome, she was a great patron of the 1675 Holy Year Jubilee celebrations, many other artists, and also of de’ Rossi, with whom she remained close until her death in 1689. All fifty-five plates in de’ Rossi’s Imagines Veteris ac Novi Testamenti (1675), reproducing Raphael’s Vatican Loggia decorations, are also dedicated to the queen; and after her death, he was commissioned to record her funeral.

During the course of an industrious lifetime, De’ Rossi made a fortune, and built a casino on the Janiculum after a design by Baratta. He was succeeded by his own son, Domenico, who continued to publish the Mercurio Geografico…’ until 1738.