Fausto Rughesi

We know that Fausto Rughesi came from a prominent family of the wine-making region of Montepulciano, and that his nephew was Cesare Bracci, archdeacon of Montelpulciano and author of a number of religious polemics in the early seventeenth century.

Although Fausto Rughesi is probably best known for his work as an architect in Rome, contributing to the design of the facade of Santa Maria in Valicella, or Chiesa Nuova, in 1605, as a younger man he was commissioned to produce a world map and set of continents for Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, which were completed in 1597. The only known complete set of these maps, at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, bare dedicatory cartouches to Gonzaga. Surviving correspondence between Annibale Chiepo and Rughesi, recorded by Matteo Fiorini in his 1891 article on Rughesi’s world map, indicates that Gonzaga had promised to pay Rughesi two hundred gold crowns for his work, although the Duke failed to pay the second half of the commission. Later issues of some of the maps are known with the dedication and Gonzaga arms removed, presumably so that Rughesi might offer them more publicly.

Gonzaga was a great patron of some of the greatest artists of his time: composer Claudio Monteverdi; painter Peter Paul Rubens; poet Torquato Tasso; and in the late 1590s, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician and cartographer Giovanni Antonio Magini served as tutor to Vincenzo’s sons, Francesco and Ferdinando. Magini’s Atlante geografico d’Italia – Geographic Atlas of Italy, is dedicated to Gonzaga, and although it is tempting to believe that Fausto Rughesi may have been aided and abetted in his own commission by Magini, it is unlikely.