Father Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) was born in Venice, the son of a tailor. He apprenticed in the art of wood-cutting, became a novice in the Franciscan order of Conventional Friars Minor in 1665, and in 1671 entered the convent of S. Maria Gloriosa dei Friari in Venice.
Around 1680 he was commissioned to make a pair of 175cm. diameter manuscript globes for the library of Duke Ranuccio Farnese de Palma. These were noticed by the ambassador to the French King, Cardinal César d'Estrée, through whose offices Coronelli was commissioned to make a larger pair of globes for Louis XIV. He remained in Paris from 1681 until 1683 to complete the pair - the famous 'Marly' globes, named for the place in which they now reside - which were an enormous 385cm. in diameter; they could reputedly bear the weight of thirty men each, and had doors concealed in their surfaces which opened to reveal detail on the interior. These globes garnered Coronelli a reputation of international renown, not only as a globe-maker of no small skill and elegance, but also as the first major manufacturer outside the Netherlands to achieve any sort of success.
It was this experience which persuaded Coronelli to set up as a manufacturer and publisher of globes and maps in a serious way. However, it took him some years to raise the necessary capital and to establish a workshop: in 1684 he founded the first geographical society in the form of the Accademia Cosmographica degli Argonauti, which was funded by subscriptions from the nobility and ecclesiastical, political and scientific elite across Europe. These patrons were expected to subscribe to all the works Coronelli produced via the Accademia, and the organisation was managed by several offices for collection and distribution scattered throughout the continent. Coronelli then set up his workshop in the convent in 1686, and started work on his first pair of printed globes, a pair of 108cm. diameter. A further problem which beset Coronelli, aside from the initial lack of funds and means, was the scarcity of qualified engravers in Venice. In response to this problem, Coronelli enlisted the aid of Jean-Baptiste Nolin (1657-1725), engraver to the French King, whose work on the celestial gores was at that time, and for many years subsequently, unparalleled. Italian engravers worked on the terrestrial gores in Venice, while the celestial gores were fashioned in Paris after drawings produced by Arnold Deuvez. These globes proved extremely popular and inspired Leiden professor Isaac Vossius to write to a friend in 1688: "There is a Venetian monk in Paris who makes very handsome globes out of wood, measuring three feet in diameter and this at a reasonable price, the pair for sixteen pistols." Coronelli had used the immense surface area of these globes to compile the most encyclopaedic amount of geographical, cartographical, historical and other information ever published on the surface of a globe.
Aside from the globes, Coronelli also produced in 1713 a work entitled Epitome cosmographica..per l'uso, dilucidatione, e fabbrica della sfere, globi, planisferi, astrolabi e tavole geografische, which amongst other things included a scholarly discourse on the construction of globes, particularly of the unusually large size that Coronelli supplied. This was preceeded, however, in 1693 by his famous Libro dei Globi. This, as with subsequent revisions and further editions, contained the engraved gores, calottes and horizons for all his printed globe pairs, of diameters 5, 8.5, 15, 47 and 108cm. It was published as part of his fund-raising subscription scheme; the idea was that the gores would be sold in the form of the Libro and then mounted for the subscribers by local craftsmen. This solved the problem of transporting the enormous finished product, and certainly the 108cm. diameter terrestrial globe in the collection at the Maritime Museum, Greenwich, bears a note indicating that it was constructed by an elderly Franciscan monk near Vienna.