INSIGHT INTO THE PAST
"... The front half of the room is divided lengthwise into three areas by six massive columns, three on each side. The columns are almost hidden from view. Visitors can only see low, interconnected cabinets at the columns' bases. Above are seen tall bookcases of a Moorish style, that run to the ceiling. Last four of them are decorated with Etruscan vases ..»
Strolling through the Imperial Public Library. 1852
In 1805, the Library acquired a very valuable collection of manuscripts, assembled by the Russian diplomat Pyotr Dubrovsky while serving as the secretary with the Russian Embassy at Paris.
During the French Revolution of 1789, Dubrovsky managed to save some of papers from the archives of the Bastille. Manuscripts from the libraries of the ancient monasteries of Saint Germain and Corbie (5th-13th centuries) also came into his hands. He amassed about 8,000 autographs by famous French persons, including letters and papers by almost all French kings, starting with Louis XI. In various European cities, Dubrovsky also acquired letters and authors' manuscripts by Erasmus of Rotterdam, Leibniz, Didro, Rousseau, Voltaire and other great scientists and writers of the 16th-18th centuries. In addition, his collection included Old Slavic and Eastern writings.
Many Russian writers and scholars gave their authors' manuscripts as a gift to Dubrovsky, commonly known as a passionate collector of such rarities.
The outstanding collection, presented by Dubrovsky to the Government, prompted the creation of a special Manuscripts Depository at the Library in 1805.
Pyotr Dubrovsky was the first appointed Keeper of Manuscripts from 1805 to 1812. Until 1812, this corner room was an apartment where Dubrovsky lived. Its interiors were designed by the academician of architecture A. N. Voronikhin. In 1851 the doorway between the apartment's premises was widened and converted into an arch. Today it is one elongated room that houses the manuscripts holdings of the National Library of Russia.
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