Biblioteca di Mafra III, Portogallo

2015, Printed Later
Archival Lambda Color Photograph

Signed, titled, dated and from edition of 5 on artist’s label on verso.

Available in 3 sizes: 100 x 120 cm. (39.4 x 47.2 in.), 120 x 150 cm. (47.2 x 59.1 in.), 180 x 225 cm. (70.9 x 88.6 in.)

Massimo Listri’s photograph of the Biblioteca di Mafra III in Portugal offers a captivating view of the library’s grandeur. At the center of the image is a globe, surrounded by rows of bookcases filled with volumes in various shades of light brown. Light streams in from the left side, illuminating the space and creating a warm ambiance.

The Mafra Palace library is celebrated as one of the most magnificent Rococo library buildings globally. Designed in the style of a monumental hall by royal court architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa (1742-1802) and located in the west wing of the vast palace of the Portuguese kings, the library was completed in 1771. Today, it serves as a museum, retaining its historical appearance.

Coffered barrel vaults and a central cupola soar overhead, allowing daylight to flood in through numerous windows. Galleries with high balustrades encircle the room, lined with bookcases that give the library a compact, homogeneous appearance. Light colors dominate the interior, accentuating the lavish Rococo ornamentation and the polychrome marble floor.

The library’s historical holdings, inventoried by the monks in the attached convent, include valuable manuscripts such as musical works composed for the palace basilica’s renowned organs. The completion of the Mafra Palace library was part of the grand building project initiated by King John V (1689-1750) and fulfilled by his son, Joseph I (1714-1777).

In 1711, King John V vowed to build a palace and convent dedicated to St. Anthony should he have a male heir. The resulting palace, located in Mafra and designed by architect Johann Friedrich Ludwig (1673-1752), incorporated a Capuchin monastery and a palace church, all part of a vast complex built around several courtyards. The project, financed by wealth from the Portuguese colony of Brazil, earned the Portuguese kings the title of “Most Faithful Majesty” for their dedication to the endeavor.