FALDA, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1643, Valduggia, d. 1678, Roma)
Italian draughtsman and printmaker, active in Rome. He was apprenticed to the painter Francesco Ferrari as a child and was mentored by Gian Lorenzo Bernini when he moved to Rome at the age of fourteen. His early work was noticed by the printmaker and publisher Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, who took Falda on as an apprentice at his print shop. Members of the de Rossi family were the principal publishers of prints in Rome during the seventeenth century, and almost all of Falda's work was published at this shop. There, Falda learned all the technical skills of engraving and etching, while also honing his realistic, illustrative style of drawing. De Rossi also put Falda in contact with emerging figures of the Roman art world, such as Francesco Borromini and Pietro da Cortona. Falda finished his training at the age of 20, subsequently beginning his career as a printmaker.
Falda's main subject was the urban landscape of Rome, and he is best known for his views, or vedute, of architecture throughout the city, especially those renovation projects backed by Pope Alexander VII. In 1665, the de Rossi printshop published a book of prints by Falda depicting elevations and perspectival views of the construction and restoration projects sponsored by the Pope, titled Nuovo teatro delle Fabbricche, et edificii, in prospettive di Roma moderna sotto il felice pontificato di n.s. Alessandro VII. Most of Falda's engravings depict views of buildings, gardens, fountains, plans of Rome, and representations of ceremonial events. Two of his most famous series are the Giardini di Roma (1670) and the Fontane di Roma (1675).
Falda's realistic style of engraving was highly influential for later Roman printmakers. The large number of architectural views that he engraved (over three hundred) also contributed to Rome's renown in the seventeenth century for the veduta as a genre of print. In addition, Falda contributed to a new perception of the city of Rome itself, depicting in his prints new images of the city, its palaces, churches and gardens. While previous views of Rome focused primarily on the ancient city, Falda portrayed a modern Rome according to an environment of urban expansion promoted by the seventeenth-century Popes. His magisterial 12-sheet map of Rome, Nuova Pianta et alzata della cittŕ di Roma con tutte le strade, piazze et edificii ... come si trovano al presente nel pontificato di n.s. papa Innocentio XI, 1676, depicts the city in minute detail at the height of its Baroque splendour, and was re-editioned four times until 1756.
His works became particularly popular with the first waves of Grand Tour participants during the latter parts of the 17th century and Falda became a commercial success as a result. His works appealed to tourists keen to retain a detailed and accurate representation of those parts of Rome they had visited.