41st ILAB Congress - Wednesday: Dutuit Collection at the Petit Palais and Bibliothèque Mazarine
Paris is famous for its haute cuisine and its haute couture, for the Louvre, the Grand Palais, the Montparnasse, the Champs Elysees, and the Eiffel Tower which celebrated its 125 anniversary early this year (and is, in fact, only 25 years older than SLAM). For bibliophiles, however, Paris is most famous for its libraries. On the third and final day of the 41st ILAB Congress the affiliates saw another two: the unique Dutuit Collection at the Grand Palais, almost unknown to the public, and the outstanding Bibliothèque Mazarine.
The private exhibition of the Dutuit Collection in the Museum of Fine Art at the Petit Palais, opposite to the Grand Palais, was the highlight of the Congress program. Built by Charles Girault for the Exposition Universelle in 1900, the Petit Palais houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, objets d'art and furniture as well as this stunning ensemble of manuscripts and 15th to 19th century books and prints. The Dutuit Collection was donated to the city of Paris in 1902 and has since then been kept at the Petit Palais. The collection of the brothers Eugène and Auguste Dutuit is known through the catalogue “Librairie Damascène Morgand” published in 1899 by Edouard Rahir. The most impressive 32 books listed in this catalogue and kept at the Petit Palais were shown in a private exhibition: livres d'heures, danses macabres, rare manuscripts and exceptional prints. The Dutuit Collection comprises books of greatest rarity, such as an original edition of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais, of which Charles Nodier said that if he had to keep one book it would be this one.
In the afternoon it followed a guided tour through the Bibliothèque Mazarine, organized by the library’s director Yann Sordet. The personal library of Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), former minister of Louis XIV, was made open to the public in 1643; thus it is the oldest public library in France which had kept over 40.000 volumes as early as 1652. During the French Revolution the Bibliothèque Mazarine received confiscated private collections due to Abbé Gaspard Michel. Since then the library has been permanently growing through the acquisition of new books, the legal deposit and significant donations. Affiliated in 1945 with the Institut de France, the Mazarine is now one of the most important literary and scientific institutions of the Ministry of Education owing rich collections of 16th to 18th century encyclopedias, 19th to 20th century history books and medieval manuscripts.
And in the evening – the farewell dinner at the Automobile Club of France. It is one of the many good traditions of the ILAB Congresses that all delegates come together at the final evening to celebrate three days of visiting magnificent libraries, seeing beautiful books, fostering friendship among antiquarian booksellers from all continents – and to say thank you to SLAM and its President Anne Lamort who had organized a wonderful ILAB Congress! This year, after an impressive, cordial and thoughtful speech by ILAB President Norbert Donhofer, the presidents of ILAB’s 22 member associations delivered a very special musical thank you to SLAM by singing the Marseillaise …
> Go to the left column, click down and see the pictures!