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Alexander Palace library regains 18th-century print album, 20.12.2018

Tsarskoe Selo has purchased from a Spanish private owner an album of prints by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727–1815), which was stolen from the Alexander Palace during the Second World War.           Click pictures to enlarge them

As appears from the House of Bourbon’s coat of arms on its blue morocco cover with gold embossing (see left), the album in grand-folio format was made in 1815–30s. It shows the stamp Tsarskoe Selo Palace Library and the Museum’s inventory numbers from 1940.

At a ceremony in the Catherine Palace, attended by the Spanish consul general in St Petersburg Mr Félix Valdés Valentín-Gamazo (see below), Director Olga V. Taratynova of Tsarskoe Selo thanked everyone who made the album’s return to our collection possible, including the Spanish embassy and Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, the Russian Ministry of Culture, and Mr José Manuel Matilla Rodríguez from the Prado Museum’s Prints and Drawings who had noticed the album in an antique book store in Madrid.

Of the 69 prints in the album, 64 match their descriptions in the 1940 inventory (below left).  The four unmatched ones are: Lady Catherine Beauclerk, Composition from the Original Picture on the Ceiling in the Second Room of the Royal Academy, A Lady with a Palette and Brushes and A Mountain Landscape with a Girl Sitting in the Foreground. Masterly stipple-engraved by Bartolozzi as well, they were probably added after 1941 to replace four lost ones. Also a later addition is another Bartolozzi print, The Holy Family and an Angel.

Only a small part of the Alexander Palace collection was evacuated during the war. The library was left hidden in the basement and later stolen. A part of it was found in Austria in the late 1940s and returned to the USSR. As of today, the Museum has reclaimed 7,500 volumes of the 24,000 that were in the Library of the Alexander Palace until the Second World War.

Now stored in the Museum’s Graphics Collection, the album of Bartolozzi prints will be showcased at our future exhibitions and later join the permanent display of the Alexander Palace upon its restoration.

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