Biblioteca Teresiana I, Mantova

1996, 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, “Biblioteca Teresiana I, Mantova,” beautifully captures the essence of the historic Biblioteca Teresiana in Mantua, Italy. The shot, taken from a central perspective, looks straight down the main hall of the library, with desks lining either side. The open doorway at the end of the room reveals a glimpse into the adjacent library room, suggesting the continuity of knowledge and exploration.

The Biblioteca Teresiana, founded in 1780 by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, stands as a monument to the Enlightenment ideals of its time. Established to promote education and access to knowledge, the library was designed as a public institution for the citizens of Mantua. The grandeur and symmetry of its neoclassical architecture reflect the artistic tastes of the period and the enlightened vision of its founders.

Listri’s photograph highlights the neoclassical elegance of the Biblioteca Teresiana. The high ceilings and large windows allow natural light to flood the space, creating an inviting and serene atmosphere for study and reflection. The intricate frescoes and detailed woodwork adorning the interiors are captured with precision, showcasing the library’s commitment to both knowledge and beauty.

The library’s collection, initially comprising a wide array of books on various subjects, has grown significantly over the centuries. Today, it houses rare manuscripts, incunabula, early printed books, and modern publications, making it a rich repository of knowledge. The rows of desks in the photograph symbolize the library’s enduring role as a place for learning and intellectual engagement.

Since its establishment, the Biblioteca Teresiana has been a cornerstone of educational and cultural development in Mantua. It serves as a vital resource for students, scholars, and researchers, contributing to the city’s intellectual life. The open doors at the end of the room in Listri’s photograph metaphorically represent the library’s mission to provide access to knowledge and foster a continuous journey of discovery.

In recent years, the Biblioteca Teresiana has embraced digitization, making its valuable collections accessible to a global audience. This initiative aligns with its original mission of disseminating knowledge and promoting learning. Listri’s photograph, with its timeless quality, captures both the historical significance and the modern relevance of this esteemed institution.

Massimo Listri’s “Biblioteca Teresiana I, Mantova” is more than just a photograph; it is a window into the rich history and enduring legacy of the Biblioteca Teresiana. Through his lens, Listri invites viewers to appreciate the architectural beauty, cultural heritage, and intellectual wealth of this historic library. The image serves as a testament to the lasting importance of public access to knowledge and the continuous pursuit of enlightenment.