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Roman Library: A meeting point for Italian art lovers

2013-09-21

Right in the heart of Rome, near the Spanish Steps, is a fairly unknown building described as a true treasure, for Italian art fanatics. Its known as the Zuccari Palace, which is easily recognized by a large mask carved in stone. Its this centerpiece that marks the entrance of the Hertziana Library.

It's named after Henriette Hertz, a 19th century cosmopolitan woman who loved Italian art. She collected and founded a research institute, where she donated a large part of her treasures.

SYBILLE EBERT-SCHIFFERER
Director, Biblioteca Hertziana

"In her will,  in 1912 she left her library, her collection of photographs and Palazzo Zuccari itself to the 'Kaiser Wilhelm society.'  It was a German research institute that was founded that very year. This is how our own establishment was born in 1913, the year when Henrietta Hertz died.”

The building is on via Gregoriana. It has an older
part with large reading rooms and recently restored fresco ceilings. Also, were the garden once stood, there is now a modern building designed by architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg, which allows the library to preserve 295,000 books on Italian art and more than 800,000 photographs.

The collection of books and pictures was personally assembled by the founder herself and was it grew throughout her life. When she died in 1913, she left over 11,000 photographs.

SYBILLE EBERT-SCHIFFERER
Director, Biblioteca Hertziana
 
"During the 1880s, Ludwig Mond and Henriette Hertz decided to start collecting Italian art during their travels through Italy. Each winter, they also traveled to Switzerland, Milan, Venice, Florence and eventually Rome.”

Henrietta Hertz left her collection of paintings to the Italian government. They are now preserved in the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome. But the Library and its iconic headquarters of Palazzo Zuccari, were intended as a gift for art scholars.

SYBILLE EBERT-SCHIFFERER
Director, Biblioteca Hertziana

"Henriette Hertz was probably in Rome for the first time in 1883. She stayed in a hotel. The same year she bought her first painting and wanted to find a house in Rome. In the winter of 1887 she rented out a few floors of Palazzo Zuccari. In 1904 she eventually bought it, because she wanted to create a research library specialized in Italian art. At the time, there was nothing similar in Rome.”

The fusion between the old Palazzo Zuccari and contemporary architecture creates a perfect meeting point for Italian art scholars from around the world. The Biblioteca Hertziana provides, it all in one place.



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