Biblioteca di Seitenstetten, Austria

1994, Printed Later
Archival lambda color photograph

Signed, titled, dated and editioned out 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 “Biblioteca di Seitenstetten, Austria” captures the majestic beauty of the library, with light streaming in from the right side of the room. One of the most striking features of the library is its distinctive blue color scheme, which envelops the space in a sense of tranquility and serenity. This choice of color creates a visually stunning backdrop for the thousands of books housed within the library’s walls.

Adding to the grandeur of the space is the magnificent yellow mural adorning the ceiling. Painted by the renowned artist Paul Troger (1698-1762), the mural depicts the Book with the Seven Seals described in the Revelation of St. John. This elaborate fresco not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of the library but also imbues it with a sense of spirituality and reverence.

The library is housed within the quadrangle of Seitenstetten Abbey, a historic monastery that underwent significant rebuilding between 1718 and 1742 under the direction of monastery architect Josef Munggenast (1680-1741). Founded in the 12th century by Benedictine monks from Gottweig, the abbey became an important economic and cultural center in the Middle Ages, supported by extensive landholdings and income from iron mines and saltworks.

While the abbey maintained a library from its early days, it was only during the reform movement initiated at Melk in 1437 that systematic efforts were made to build up the library’s collection. Today, the library’s oldest holdings consist of manuscripts acquired during this period of spiritual renewal.

During the Baroque era, the library’s collections expanded significantly, with works on theology, philosophy, and church history joining the earlier acquisitions of sermons. Josef Munggenast’s remodeling of the abbey transformed it into a magnificent complex, with particular emphasis placed on the library, which rises through two storeys in the south wing.

The clear layout of the approximately 17,000 books in the main hall, housed there since 1763, reflects their uniform bindings, lettering, and strict arrangement by size. Additional rooms, including a reference library, study room, natural history collection, and coin collection, were completed in 1777, further enhancing the abbey’s scholarly offerings.