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Bibliotheca Artis: Treasures from the Museo del Prado library

Madrid 10/5/2010 - 1/30/2011

The exhibition is made up of three sections. The first one, Bibliotheca Artis, shows the basic landmarks of the European artistic bibliography from the most important renaissance treaties (Alberti, Leonardo, Dürer) up to the fundamental works form the Spanish Golden Age (Pachecho, Carducho, García Hidalgo, Palomino). The second one, Bibliotheca Architecturae is devoted to architectural treaties conceived as a defined typology among art books and it comprises early editions of the Vitruvio up to great Italian and European renaissance treaties (Palladio, Serlio, Vignola, Delorme, Dieteterlin). Some books from public festivities will be included (royal admissions, canonizations…) conceived as an irreplaceable testimony of the disappeared ephemeral architectures. And finally, the section Bibliotheca Imaginis which focuses on the role that books play as a work tool and as a source of inspiration for artists. From the artists’ portrait repertoire to the drawing drafts, baroque emblem books or the albums with reproductions of works of art, the whole will show the importance of illustrations in books in the building of the visual European imaginary of the Modern Age.

The Museo del Prado Library

The Museo del Prado library, presently installed in the Casón del Buen Retiro, houses an important Old Books Holdings, notably increased the past years thanks to the acquisition of the José María Cervelló library and the Daza-Madrazo family library. The exhibition will show forty books and manuscripts dated between 1500 and 1750, as well as a group of eight paintings from the museum’s collection (Titian, El Greco, Velázquez, etc) which will reveal different connections between the bibliographical fund and the paintings collection.

Javier Docampo, Head of Library, Archive and Documentation at the Museo Nacional del Prado


Room D. Jerónimos Building

Opening time

Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 8pm



Bibliotheca Artis

Bibliotheca Artis
Image of the exhibition room with the Portrait of Pacheco, by Diego Velázquez.

The exhibition is organized into three sections. The first, Bibliotheca Artis (Library of Art), is the most important, featuring major works from the European literature on art, starting with the great treatises of the Italian Renaissance. On display are first editions of the key texts on painting by Leon Battista Alberti (1547) and Leonardo da Vinci (1651), as well as the first systematic treatise on perspective by Daniele Barbaro, who is the subject of a portrait by Titian in the Museum’s collection. The dissemination of Renaissance ideas in northern Europe is best represented by Dürer’s theoretical writings, of which an example here is the first Latin edition of his treatise On Measurement (1532). Also included in this section is a copy of the founding text of art history, Vasari’s Lives, a work that exercised a notable influence in Italy and the rest of Europe.

Art theory during the Spanish Golden Age represents is another important section within the exhibition, with copies of several groundbreaking texts on display. Among 16th-century treatises, for example, is Felipe de Guevara’s Comentario de la pintura, recently rediscovered among the holdings of the Madrazo library and exhibited to the public for the first time. Velázquez’s teacher and father-in-law Francisco Pacheco is represented here by a short section from the first edition of his Arte de la pintura (1649), accompanied by an extremely rare leaflet (the only example in a Spanish library) with manuscript annotations by the author and a reproduction of Velázquez’s portrait of him. Other outstanding items, also on show for the first time, are the manuscript copy of the Discursos by Jusepe Martínez (ca.1673-1675) and one of the copperplates used for the illustrations of Palomino’s El museo pictórico (1715).

Bibliotheca Architecturae

Bibliotheca Architecturae
Image of the exhibition room with the works: Christ Shown Displayed to the People, by Castilian Anonymous; and Ruins with Saint Paul Preaching, by Giovanni Paolo Panini.

The second section, Bibliotheca Architecturae (Library of Architecture) brings together a carefully selected group of architectural treatises. Once again the key theme is the Italian Renaissance, with important editions of works by Vitruvius, Vignola, Serlio and Palladio. In addition to emphasising the significance and beauty of some of these texts, such as the edition of Vitruvius published by Cesare Cesariano in 1521 (the oldest book in the exhibition), this section also focuses on the way in which Renaissance painters such as El Greco used their illustrations to create the architectural backgrounds in their own compositions.

This section also includes French, German and Spanish books on architecture and concludes with an area devoted to a small selection of books on public celebrations, which are unique witnesses to the spectacular temporary architectural structures designed for royal entries, canonisations, funerals, etc, by artists of the stature of Rubens and Valdés Leal.

Bibliotheca Imaginis

Bibliotheca Imaginis
Image of the exhibition room with the Allegory of Painting, by Livio Mehus.

The third section, Bibliotheca Imaginis (Library of the Image) focuses on the important role that book illustrations played in European art in the early modern age. It includes drawing manuals, which were an essential element in artists’ training as they offered models for learning to draw the human figure step by step. Among them are the Principios by García Hidalgo (ca.1700), the most important and rarest of the Spanish manuals, produced in the final years of the Golden Age.

Books were of fundamental importance to painters as they constituted essential formal and iconographic sources for the creation of their own works. In this regard the exhibition offers a brief reflection on the genre of the portrait through three types of printed repertoires that were fundamental to the dissemination of formal models. Also on display are a number of books that are crucial to an understanding of the meaning of Renaissance and Baroque art, namely illustrated editions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1595), Ripa’s Iconology (1603), and various important emblem books, whose contents inspired the iconography of numerous paintings in the Museo del Prado.

Books lie at the origins of numerous paintings and also function as unique witnesses to their subsequent critical fortunes. The most important cycles of European paintings were reproduced in print form and disseminated through sumptuous albums, while the first collections of paintings (firstly private, aristocratic and royal ones and later public collections) became known throughout Europe through books such as the Prodromus (1735), a copy of which brings the exhibition to a close. Having opened with the first great theoretical text that codified the principles of Renaissance painting – Alberti’s Pittura – the exhibition closes with the birth of the institution that marked the evolution of the visual arts in the modern age: the Museum.



La Pittura di Leon Battista Alberti / tradotta per M. Lodovico Domenichi. – In Vinegia : appresso Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari

Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472)


Trattato della pittura di Lionardo da Vinci / nuovamente dato in luce, con la vita dell'istesso autore, scritta di Rafaelle du Fresne ; si sono giunti i tre libri della Pittura, et il trattato della statua di Leon Battista Alberti, con la vita del medesimo. -- In Parigi : Appresso Giacomo Langlois ...

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)


Institutionum Geometricarum libris, lineas, superficies & solida corpora tractavit… -- Lutetiae : apud Christianum Wechelum ...

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)


Le vite de' piu eccellenti pittori scultori, e architetori / scritte da M. Giorgio Vasari.... -- In Fiorenza : Apresso i Giunti

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)


La pratica della perspettiua di Monsignor Daniel Barbaro eletto Patriarca d'Aquilea, opera molto profitteuole a pittori, scultori, et architetti.- In Venetia : appresso Camillo & Rutilio Borgominieri fratelli

Daniele Barbaro (1513-1570)


Felsina Pittrice : vite de pittori bolognesi... / consagnata dal Co. Carlo Cesare Malvasia... -- In Bologna : per l'Erede di Domenico Barbieri : Ad instanza di Gio. Francesco Davico...

Conte Carlo Cesare Malvasia (1616-1693)


Academia nobilissimæ artis pictoriæ. -- Noribergæ [Nuremberg] : Literis Christiani Sigismundi Frobergii, sumtibus autoris. ; Francofurti [Frankfurt] : Apud Michaëlis ac Johan. Friderici Endterorum haeredes, & Johan. de Sandrart.

Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688)
Cerv /1495


De varia commensuracion para la esculptura y architectura ... -- En Sevila [sic] : en la imprenta de Andrea Pescioni y Juan de Leon…

Juan de Arfe y Villafañe (ca. 1535-1595)
1585 (i. e. 1587)


Comentario de la pintura y pintores antiguos [Plasencia?], ca. 1788

Felipe de Guevara (1500-1563)


Noticia general para la estimacion de las artes...- En Madrid: por Pedro Madrigal

Gutiérrez de los Ríos


Determiné comunicar a algunos curiosos de la Arte de la Pintura, este Capítulo de mi Libro…

Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644)
ca. 1619


Arte de la pintura, su antigüedad y grandezas : descriuense los hombres eminentes que ha auido en ella... y enseña el modo de pintar todas las pinturas sagradas / por Francisco Pacheco... --En Seuilla : por Simon Faxardo...

Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644)


Dialogos de la pintura : su defensa, origen, essencia, definicion, modos y diferencias ... / por Vincencio Carducho…-- En Madrid : impresso ... por Frco. Martinez

Vicente Carducho (ca. 1578-1638)
1633 - 1634


Discursos practicables del nobilisimo arte de la pintura

José Martínez (1612-1682)
Mss. (sin número)


El museo pictorico y escala óptica/ Antonio Palomino de Castro y Velasco. -- En Madrid : por Lucas Antonio de Bedmar ... : vendese en casa de Don Joseph de Villar y Villanueva

Acisclo Antonio Palomino de Castro y Velasco (1653-1726)


Di Lucio Vitruvio Pollione De architectura Libri dece. -- Como : P[er] Magistro Gotardo da Ponte ...

MarcoVitrubio Polión


I dieci libri dell'Architettura di M. Vitruuio ; tradutti et commentati da Monsignor Barbaro eletto Patriarca d'Aquileggia ; con due tauole ... -- In Vinegia : per Francesco Marcolini

Marco Vitrubio Polión


Regola delli cinque ordini d'architettura / di M. Iacomo Barozzie da Vignola [S.l. : s.n., s.a.]

Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola


Libro primo [-quinto] d'Architettura / di Sebastiano Serlio bolognese ... -- In Venetia : appresso Francesco Sense, & Zuane Krugher Alemanno Compagni

Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554)


I quattro libri dell'Architettura / di Andrea Palladio. -- In Venetia : Appresso Dominico de'Franceschi

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580)


Architecture de Philibert de l'Orme... : oeuvre entiere contenant unze Livres, augmentée de deux.. A Rouen : Chez David Ferrand

Philibert Delorme


Architectvra von ausstheilung : sÿmmetria und proportion der funff seulen, und aller darauss volgender kunst arbeit von fenstern, caminen, thurgerichten, portalen ... erfunden ... vnd an tag geben / durch Wendel Dietterlein-- Zufinden in Nürnberg [Nuremberg] : bey Pauluss Fürst Kunsthädlern, Aº 1655

Wendel Dietterlin (1550?-1599?)


Architectura civil recta y obliqua : considerada y dibuxada en el templo de Ierusalem ... -- En Vegeven : en la Emprenta Obispal por Camillo Corrado

Juan Caramuel Lobkowitz O.Cist. (1606-1682)


Architetture e prospettive... / da Giuseppe Galli da Bibiena. – Augusta : Sotto la direzione di Andrea Pfeffel

Giuseppe Galli Bibiena (1696-1756)


Viage de la Catholica Real Magestad del Rei D. Filipe III. N.S. al reino de Portugal... / por Ioan Baptista Lauaña.... -- Madrid : por Thomas Iunti...

João Baptista Lavanha


Pompa introitus honori serenissimi principis Ferdinandi Austriaci Hispaniarum infantis... Belgarum et Burgundionum gubernatoris.... -- Antuerpiae : veneunt exemplaria apud Theod. a Tulden qui iconum fabulas ex archetypis Rubenianis delineanit et scalpsit

Jean Gaspard Gevaerts (1593-1666)
1641 (excudebat Ioannes Meursius...)


Fiestas de la S. Iglesia metropolitana y patriarcal de Sevilla al nuevo culto del ... rey S. Fernando el tercero de Castilla y de Leon : concedido a todas las iglesias de España por ... Clemente X ... / escriviolo ... don Fernando de la Torre Farfan .... -- En Sevilla : en casa de la viuda de Nicolàs Rodriguez

Fernando de la Torre Farfán


Principii del disegno / fatti per S.B. -- [S.l. : s.n., s.a.]

Stefano della Bella (1610-1664)


[Opera] : Sereniss. Mantuae Duci Ferdinando Gonzaghae D.D. / Jo. Franciscus Barberius Centen. inuentor ; Oliuerius Gattiis sculpsit 1619. -- [S.l. : s.n., s.a.]

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Il Guercino (1591-1666)


Principios para estudiar el nobilissimo y real arte de la pintura… / compuesto por don Joseph Garcia Hidalgo ... -- [Valencia : se hallaràn en su casa en Valencia, en la calle de la Congregacion, ca. 1693]

José García Hidalgo (1645-1717)


Vitae Illustrium virorum : tomis duobus comprehensae, & proprijs imaginibus illustratae. -- Basil. [Basilea] : Petri Pernae Typographi Basil. Opera ac stvdio, 1578 (Basilae : ex Perniana officina sumptibus Henrici Petri & Petri Pernae, 1576)[6] h., 428 p. : il. ; Fol.

Paolo Giovio (1483-1552)


Cremona fedelissima città, et nobilissima colonia de Romani... -- In Cremona : in casa dell' Auttore, 1585 (Per Hippolito Tromba, & Hercoliano Bartoli)

Antonio Campi
280 x 420 mm
Biblioteca Correa


Le Cabinet des plus beaux portraits de plusieurs princes et princesses, des hommes illustres, fameux peintres, sculpteurs, architectes, amateurs de peinture et autres, / faits par le fameux Antoine Van Dyck

Anton van Dyck (1599-1641)
[Amberes : Verdussen, ca. 1700-1720]


Las Transformaciones de Ovidio en lengva española : repartidas en qvinze libros : con las Allegorias al fin dellos y sus figuras para prouecho de los artifices ... / [Ihorje de Bustamante]. -- En Anvers : en casa de Pedro Bellero

Publio Ovidio Nasón
Cerv/ 173


Diuerse imprese accomodate a diuerse moralità : con versi che i loro significati dichiarano / tratte da gli emblemi dell'Alciato. -- In Lione : da Gulielmo Rouillio

Andrea Alciati (1492-1550)


Iconologia ouero Descrittione di diuerse imagini cauate dall'antichità & di propria inuentione. -- In Roma : apresso Lepido Facij

Cesare Ripa (c. 1555-1622)


Idea de un Principe Político Christiano : representada en cien empresas... / por Don Diego de Saavedra Faxardo Cavallero del Orden de S. Iago.... -- En Amberes : en casa de Ieronymo y Iuan Bapt. Verdussen

Diego de Saavedra Fajardo (1584-1648)


Theatro moral de la vida humana : en cien emblemas. Con el Enchiridion / de Epicteto. y la Tabla / de Cebes, philosofo platonico. -- En Amberes : por la Viuda de Henrico Verdussen

Otto van Veen (1556-1629)


La gallerie du Palais du Luxembourg / peinte per Rubens ; desinée par les S. de Nattier et gravée par les plus illustres graveurs du tempo. -- A Paris : chez le S\pr\s Duchange graveur du Roy ...

Peter Paul Rubens


[Prodromus, seu praeambulare lumen reserati portentosae magnificentiae theatri = Prodromus oder Vor-Licht des eröffneten Schatz-und Wunder-Prachtes]

Frans van Stampart (1675-1750)
Viena, 1735

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