Biblioteca di Strahov, Praga

2009, 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.)

In Massimo Listri’s photograph of the Biblioteca di Strahov in Prague, natural light streams in from windows on the left side, casting a soft glow over the room. A blue carpet leads the eye down the space, adorned with globes that evoke a sense of exploration and discovery.

The Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov Abbey has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1143 by Bishop Jindrich Zdik. From its inception, a library and scriptorium were integral to the monastery, housing manuscripts and codices that bear witness to centuries of intellectual endeavor.

Throughout its history, the library acquired important works of academic and scientific literature, including unique documents related to the activities of astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe. By the late 18th century, the Bibliotheca Strahoviensis was renowned as the most important monastic library in Bohemia, with holdings spanning a broad spectrum of topics.

The library’s two monumental halls, the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall, showcase different architectural styles and house vast collections of volumes. The Theological Hall, designed in Baroque style, features shelves with a reddish hue and uniformly bound codices, creating a decorative whole in the Bohemian Baroque style. On the other hand, the Philosophical Hall, a neoclassical ensemble, boasts magnificent book cabinets, galleries, and wall fittings in walnut.

The development of sciences from antiquity to the 18th century is depicted in an illusionistic ceiling fresco, one of the last works by artist Franz Anton Maulbertsch. Despite changes in ownership and usage over the years, including a period when it was incorporated into the Museum of National Literature, the library was eventually restituted to the Premonstratensians in 1991. Today, its historical library rooms and accompanying cabinet of curiosities can be visited as a museum, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in centuries of knowledge and exploration.