Research Library of the Russian Academy of Arts
17 University Embankment
199034 St.Petersburg, Russia
Liudmilla S. Polyakova
Tel: 812 323-6529
The establishment of the specialist fine art library in Russia was stipulated by provisions of the first 1764 Statute of the Imperial Academy of Arts. The core of the Library collection was 94 books and prints bequeathed by Ivan I. Shuvalov, the first curator of the Academy.
Now, the Library contains over half a million books and manuscripts covering the principles and practice of fine art, volumes on theory and history of art, painting, graphic art, engraving, architecture, anatomy, mythology and other disciplines necessary for training and upbringing of the Academy students.
The Library boasts rare editions of the of the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th centuries published in Italy, Germany, England, Holland, France and fine specimen of old |Russian polygraphy. One of the first books obtained in the French language was “Description of the trip to Persia and East India through Moscow by a Dutch scientist and artist Cornelius de Bryuonne published in 1718 in Amsterdam illustrated with numerous prints.
Along with books purchased by the Academy, many volumes have been added to the Library collection by bequest or gift from the Academy presidents, teachers, artists and prominent figures of culture, among them were I. Betskoi, Academy’s president, Thomas de Tomon, Pietro Gonzaga, Ivan I. Tolstoi, Academy’s vice-president and others. Nicholai Utkin, who was a custodian of engravings in 1843-1854, donated the Academy splendid albums of engravings from his private collection. Fiedor G. Berenstam, director of the Library in 1894-1912 endowed many museum and exhibition catalogues.
In 1906 baron Arminiy E. Felkerzam, custodian of the jewelry division in the Hermitage and an amateur artist, donated to the Library his big collection of ex-librises comprising 2500 items that was later enriched only by a few gifts. Foreign bookplates make the main part of the collection. In 1998 in St.Petersburg there was the first in Russia International Congress on ex-librises. For the first time Felkerzam’s collection was shown to wide public.
The Library owns a remarkable collection of Russian and West-European prints including works by such foreign masters as D. Piranesi, A. Durer, Rembrandt, as well as by founders of the Russian print school.
Of big interest is the collection bequeathed by architect Grigori I. Kotov who died of starvation during the siege of Leningrad in 1942. It contains books on architecture published in Italy and France in the late 17th – early 18th centuries, Auguste Montferrand’s books with personal seals of the architect, editions with Charles Cameron’s personal seal.
The beautiful halls of the Library have been adorned by noted Russian artists.
The Library arranges exhibitions dedicated to remarkable dates as well as temporary thematic exhibitions and is included in international reference books.