Biblioteca di Sainte Genevieve, Parigi, Francia

2016, 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 Sainte Genevieve in Paris, France, captures the essence of this historic library. The image is taken from a centered position slightly above the desks, providing a panoramic view down the long hallway filled with rows of desks adorned with reading lamps. Natural light streams in from the high windows, illuminating the space and creating a serene atmosphere.

The Biblioteca di Sainte Genevieve owes its name to Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, who was buried next to the 6th century monastery founded by the Merovingians, in the church now bearing her name. Historical records of the library date back to 1148 when Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis dispatched Augustinian canons to Sainte-Genevieve to oversee the monastery library and scriptorium. By the 13th century, the library already contained 226 codices, marking the beginning of its significance as a center of scholarship in the Quartier Latin, the student quarter outside Paris’s city walls.

In 1624, Louis XIII re-founded the library, elevating its status to a “royal” library and expanding its collection through donations and acquisitions. Despite the challenges of the Revolutionary period, including the dissolution of the abbey housing the library, it survived intact, eventually becoming the Bibliotheque du Pantheon. The library moved to a new building opposite the Pantheon in 1851, designed by Henri Labrouste, featuring groundbreaking architectural features such as iron-frame construction and a unique typology that influenced subsequent library designs in Paris and beyond.

The Biblioteca di Sainte Genevieve continues to serve as the Paris l Pantheon-Sorbonne university library, boasting a collection of two million media units. Its rich history, architectural significance, and dedication to scholarship make it a cherished institution in the heart of Paris.