Our Museum has regained Jean-Baptiste Capefigue’s Le cardinal Dubois et la régence de Philippe d'Orléans: les cardinaux-ministres (Paris: Amyot, 1861), a nineteenth-century French book looted during the Second World War.
The volume by the French historian and biographer was handed over to director Olga Taratynova of Tsarskoe Selo by Barbara Schneider-Kempf, director of the Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) and co-chairwoman of the German-Russian Library Dialogue. Her library received the book from a German who bought it at a bookseller’s in Amsterdam.
The handover ceremony at the 2017 St Petersburg International Cultural Forum was assisted by Britta Kaiser-Schuster, head of the German-Russian Museum Dialogue (DRMD), and Vadim Duda, director of the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow.
According to its label and inventory stamp, the book was stored in Bookcase No.45 in the Great Library of the Alexander Palace. The label of the Alexander Palace Museum was attached in 1917. The stamp came from an inventory carried out during 1938–40.
This book on Guillaume Dubois (1656–1723), the third of the four great Cardinal-Ministers (Richelieu, Mazarin, Dubois, and Fleury), will join the other eleven publications by the same author, accessioned by Tsarskoe Selo under Nicholas I and, like the returned one, under Alexander II. Our collection already includes Capefigue’s Le cardinal de Richelieu of the same series les cardinaux-ministres, published by Amyot in Paris in 1865. All those books came in rather modest binding typical for that period when Russian imperial libraries followed the motto of the imperial court, Nobless et economie.
As each of the five imperial libraries was assigned a specialization in 1842, the New (Alexander) Palace would then receive “only contemporary fiction and historical works for reading by the highest figures and by courtiers staying at Tsarskoe Selo”.
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