The Formation of the Library
The original nucleus (consisting of 16 works on various subjects) dates to the 1780s: this was the "Petite Bibliothèque pour l'Instruction des Elèves" (Little Library for the Instruction of Pupils) of the Painting School of Lorenzo Pécheux, who was also the first director of the Accademia during important reforms in 1778.
The collection of books, prints, drawings and photographs was built up over time, through both donations and purchases. In the years 1821-1851, under the management of Giovanni Battista Biscarra, the collection was enriched through a series of donations from the Royal House and from Turin academic circles. Two important bequests were made: the first in 1837 by Giuseppe Monticoni, secretary and treasurer of the Accademia and director of the library; the second, before 1851, by Giuseppe Mattirolo, honorary member of the Accademia. Later came the donation by Pier Alessandro Paravia, professor of History and Mythology at the Accademia and of Italian Rhetoric at the University of Turin, consisting of several volumes of prints.
Aside from these donations, however, there were also ordinary purchases, mostly of the best-known anatomy books then in use in art academies, and already collected in the years 1832-1836 at the request of Francesco Bertinatti, instructor of Artistic Anatomy. Worthy of note is the acquisition in 1854 of the library belonging to Pietro Palmieri junior - about 500 volumes which were added to the 520 already in the collection.
Meanwhile Giovanni Volpato, engraver and “curator of His Majesty’s engravings and prints” reorganised the collection of some 5000 prints in the library of the University of Turin, which were acquired by the Accademia. This legacy, together with the pre-existing ones (the Paravia bequest and the donation by the Marchese di San Marzano) was expanded starting in 1869 with the portfolio of etchings published by the association “Etching. Society of Italian Artists in Turin”.
During the same period, thanks to the personal interest of Carlo Felice Biscarra, the library purchased the most up-to-date texts on the decorative arts applied to industry, in line with the new course programs. Among the most interesting sections of the library are those dedicated to design instruction, architecture, and the history of costume. There are large collections of manuals of artistic techniques, iconological and antiquarian catalogues, and artists’ biographies.
Finally mention should be made of a valuable collection of 19th-century drawings and another of photographs, most of the latter dating to the second half of that century.
There is a print catalogue, Catalogo delle opere esistenti nella Biblioteca (Catalogue of the Works in the Library), edited by G. Lavini, but it is rather dated, having been published in Turin in 1897! A new catalogue was urgently needed, and is presently being compiled.
Monday 11:30-18:30, Tuesday to Friday 10:00-15:00
THE HISTORICAL LIBRARY OF THE ACCADEMIA is open to researchers:
- Monday (12.00-17.30)
- Tuesday (10.30-14.30)
only on appointment with the director Dott.ssa Rosella Grassi.