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Prints Department Collections

Graphic material began to come into the Imperial Public Library from its foundation in 1795. Taken together from the middle of the 19th century, they formed the collection of the art department. In a further development of the Library, in the 1950s, the art department was incorporated into the newly created Prints Department. The department has significant historic associations with many leading personalities of Russian culture. From 1850 the staff of the library included Vladimir Stasov, the leading Russian critic and historian of Russian art life. Vladimir Stasov was the appointed head of the Art Department from 1872 to 1906. In the 1850s, on the initiative of Stasov, the size of the Library's collection of Russian engravings of the 18th century was greatly increased by impressions specially taken for the Public Library from old plates.

It was Vladimir Stasov who came up with and carried out the idea of creating the Petrine Gallery of all the graphic material relating to Peter the Great. The collection comprises Russian engravings from the first quarter of the eighteenth century: portraits of Peter the Great and his contemporaries, scenes of land and sea battles, victory celebrations and views of Moscow and St Petersburg.

During the period from 1918 to 1930, the department was headed by Michael Lozinsky, the renowned translator and poet. It was under Lozinsky that the first alphabetical card index of the prints collections appeared. Notable advances were made in processing and cataloguing the prints.

The prints collections today number more than 1.26 million images. These include:

There are the most noteworthy named collections of graphic materials and photographs held within the Prints holdings:
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