Many of prints, housed at the Prints Department, were bound into albums by collectors or the publishers themselves.
The Department's holdings contains many famous print series like the Illustrated Bible, published early in the seventeenth century in Amsterdam by the Dutch engraver and publisher Claes Jansz Visscher, called Piscator.
There is a rare atlas, issued in sixty-six volumes by the Dutch publisher Pieter van der Aa between 1700 and 1729, the Galerie agreable du monde (Pleasurable Gallery of the World) which contains views and maps of cites in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The British school of printmaking is represented in the Department by artists such as Hogarth, Valentin Green, John Raphael Smith, James McArdell, John Boydell and Francesco Bartoluzzi. The "English School" albums from the former collection of the Counts Sheremetev contain prints by these major European printmakers of the eighteenth century executed in a variety of techniques and styles. Among the gems of the library are the 23 published albums of the French Royal Collection, conceived by Louis XIV and recording all works of art created or acquired in his time, as well as 16 volumes containing etchings of architectural monuments and fantasies by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Francesco Piranesi, a real masterpiece of Italian eighteenth-century art.
The National Library of Russia is especially fortunate in possessing Russian prints of the eighteenth - twentieth centuries. Among the most valuable items from the eighteenth century are several illustrated coronation albums of empresses of Russia: Anna Ivanovna, Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine the Great, as well as the series of views of Russian towns, and well-known The Plan of the Capital City of St. Petersburg with the Depiction of Its Most Distinctive Views created by the artist and engraver Mikhail Makhaev. The Prints Department also holds one of the largest publications of engravings in Russia - Atlas of Kruzenshtern's Circumnavigation. This atlas, issued in 1813 in St. Petersburg, contains 109 plates to Kruzenshtern's account of his voyage around the world. Holdings include treasures from the Golden Age of Russian lithography such as albums of views of St. Petersburg, published in the 1820s by Alexandre Pluchart, and Scenes from Popular Life made in 1839 by Ignatii Shchedrovskii, the graphic artist, lithographer and painter.
Particularly noteworthy among albums from the second half of the nineteenth century are a series of lithographs depicting the Caucasus, produced by the painter and draughtsman Grigory Gagarin, as well as the twenty-nine-volume edition of Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army by the military historian Alexander Viskovatov. The nineteenth century collection also includes profound publications of chromolithographs showing Russian ornamental patterns and masterpieces of Russian culture.
From 1850 the staff of the library included Vladimir Stasov, one of the leading Russian critic. On the initiative of Stasov, the Prints Department began to collect photo albums in the second half of the nineteenth century. The photographs represent a variety of subjects, including ethnography, archaeology, views of nature and towns, historical events, social scenes and portraits. The most important items are the Album of the Amur and Ussuri Regions containing photographs taken in the second half of the 1860s and 1870s, a group of photographs made by the ethnographic photographer Ivan Raoult, as well as the Turkestan Album produced in the 1870s, the album Views of Hard Labor in Nerchinsk of 1891, the forty-seven-volume publication of photographs Russian Art and Architecture in the 19th Century recorded 1882-1896 by Ivan Barshchevskii, photographer of the Russian Imperial Archaeological Society.
Digital versions of several albums, held in the Prints Department, can be found on the site of the Library of Congress. Albums selected for the digital library of the Russian-American project Meeting of Frontiers by the National Library of Russia include
- Album of the Amur and Ussuri Regions
- Views of Sakhalin Island
- Atlas of Kruzenshtern's Circumnavigation
- Album of Seniavin Lithographs
- Album "Launch of the Icebreaking Ferry Baikal"
- Album "Views of Hard Labor in Nerchinsk"
- The Cheliuskin
- The Birobidzhan Album
- Albums of Siberian Cities
- Albums of Expeditions to Siberia and the Russian Far East
drawn on the album History and Culture of Saint Petersburg in Graphic Arts can be found on our web site.