The Bibliothèque nationale de France collects, preserves and makes known the national documentary heritage.
The BnF’s collections are unique in the world: 14 million books and printed documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps and plans, scores, coins, medals, sound documents, video and multimedia documents, scenery elements... All disciplines, whether intellectual, artistic or scientific, are represented in a comprehensive way. About 150 000 documents are added to the collections each year thanks to legal deposit, acquisitions and donations.
BnF’s collections of prints, built up by the Bibliothèque Royale from the 17th century onwards and added to by the introduction in 1632 of the legal deposit scheme for prints, bring together works by ancient and contemporary French and foreign engravers: Dürer, Callot, Rembrandt, Goya, Hokusaï, Picasso, Matisse, Tapiès, Jim Dine, etc. Most of these collections are held by the Prints and Photographs department.
BnF’s collections of French engravings represent virtually the entire production of prints in France from the 17th century onwards, and continue to grow with the addition of works by contemporary artists and items produced by printing shops (URDLA, Arte-Maeght, Linard, etc.).
The Posters of the Posters collection, most of which have been added to the Prints and Photographs department under the legal deposit scheme, may be either anonymous or created by renowned artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha, or Cassandre. The collection recounts the history of posters, and works can be consulted by both artist’s name and subject (titles of lyrical works, films, advertising brands, etc.).
The Library holds France’s largest graphic arts collection:
- Works by graphic designers (Jean Widmer, Paul Rand, Pippo Lionni, etc.)
- Books by artists (works of art in the form of books, many of which have been published using industrial techniques, excluding any considerations of sophistication)
- Graphzines (collective graphic design albums)
- Ephemera (artists’ postcards, artists’ stamps, flyers, etc.)
The collection of prints brings together unique sets of works, including, for example, the following:
- Xylographic incunabula, 15th century engraved pilgrims’ chests, and primitive Italian engravings (1,000 pieces)
- Rembrandt’s prints (900 pieces)
- Michelle de Marolles’ encyclopedic collections
- François-Roger de Gaignières’ topographical, portrait, and costume collections and the topographical collections of the farmer-general, Lallement de Betz
- The historical collections of Fevret de Fontette, Michel Hennin, and the Baron de Vinck de Deux-Orp
- The Marquis of Béringhen’s collection of prints by masters, and Moreau-Nélaton’s collection of prints by 19th century masters
- The Curtis collection with its many Eastern pieces, and a unique collection of illustrated Japanese prints and books
- Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithographs (800 pieces)
- Cliché-verre prints by Corot and Daubigny
- Donations by Jean Matisse (1978-1981), Hélion (1979-1985), Baselitz (1985), Sam Francis (1988), Barry Flanagan (1988), Louise Bourgeois (1995), etc.
Nacional Library of France, Paris
François-Mitterrand Library: Quai François-Mauriac, 75706 Paris Cedex 13, France
France Arsenal Library: 1, rue Sully, 75004 Paris, France
François-Mitterrand Library: Mondays 2.00 pm – 8.00 pm (Research Library) Tuesday – Saturday 9.00 am – 8.00 pm, Sundays 1.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Arsenal Library: Monday – Friday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm, Saturdays 10.00 am – 5.00 pm