Avery Library Acquires Rare Album Once Belonging to French Neoclassical Painter Guérin

NEW YORK, April 28, 2005 - The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library recently acquired an important album of 17 original drawings and watercolors by leading French artists and architects of the 19th century.

The small but precious album was compiled in 1828 as a retirement gift for the French painter Pierre Narcisse Guérin (1774-1833), director of the French Academy in Rome. Guérin was one of the most influential painters and teachers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras.

Seventeen of his former pupils each contributed one design to the album. Painters and sculptors are well represented, but the most notable illustrations are by a new generation of French architects including Félix Duban, Henri and Théodore Labrouste, Joseph Louis Duc, and Léon Vaudoyer.

The architects' contributions "form something of a joint reverie on the nature of architecture and its relationship to the fragments of the past," said Barry Bergdoll, Chair of Columbia's department of Art History and Archaeology, adding that the album "offers a remarkable glimpse into the moment of gestation of architectural romanticism."

The album will be the subject of an essay by Professor Bergdoll in a forthcoming festschrift to honor the architectural historian Robin Middleton, published by Thames and Hudson.

The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library is one of the most outstanding and comprehensive collections relating to architecture and the fine arts in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archeology. The Library contains more than 400,000 volumes, including 35,000 rare books, and receives approximately 1,000 periodicals. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes one million architectural drawings and records. The Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, an operating program of the Getty Research Institute, which is the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.