Books

National Art Library reading rooms

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The National Art Library holds the most extensive reference collection on fine and decorative arts in the UK, as well as special collections which chart the art, craft and design of the book, ranging from early printed works to contemporary artists' books, from fine bindings to comics and graphic novels.

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Highlights include no less than three Shakespeare First Folios (1623); nearly 200 incunables (books printed before 1501); the complete libraries of John Forster and Alexander Dyce – two accomplished 19th-century scholars; the Clements collection of heraldic bindings; a growing collection of artists' books and photobooks; outstanding holdings on the 1851 Great Exhibition and subsequent world's fairs; colourful pattern books and trade catalogues; art, fashion and design journals from the 18th century to the present day; a vast array of early and current exhibition catalogues; one of the largest collections of sale catalogues in the world, and much more. The collections can be consulted in the National Art Library reading rooms and many of our most remarkable books are on display throughout the museum.

Collection Highlights

Periodical
The Yellow Book, Volume III, cover designed by Aubrey Beardsley (London: John Lane and Boston: Copeland & Day, October 1894). Museum no. L.520-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Book, Pericles and Aspasia by Walter Savage Landor
Pericles and Aspasia, by Walter Savage Landor, binding designed by Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson (New York: privately printed for Scott-Thaw Co., 1903). Museum no. L.1583-1922. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Front cover from Jazz, illustrated by Henri Matisse
Jazz, illustrations by Henri Matisse, binding by Paul Bonet (Paris: Tériade, 1947). Museum no. L.338-1948. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Book, Poissons, ecrevisses, et crabes de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires
Plate I from Poissons, écrevisses, et crabes de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires…, by Louis Renard (Amsterdam, early 18th century). Museum no. 38041800805954. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Title page from Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts, et des métiers
Title page from Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers..., edited by Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert, Volume XIII (Paris: chez Briasson, 1751 – 65). Museum no. 38041800785941. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Paper peepshow
'The Thames Tunnel at London', paper peepshow, 1843, London. Museum no. Gestetner 238. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Book, And, where did the peacocks go? by Miho Kajioka
And, where did the peacocks go?, by Miho Kajioka (Kyoto: Miho Kajioka, 2016). Museum no. 38041016042814. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sale catalogue
Catalogue raisonné des différens objets de curiosités dans les sciences et arts, qui composoient le cabinet de feu Mr Mariette..., by François Basan (Paris, 1775). Museum no. 38041800879827. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Artist's book, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
The Book of Disquiet, by Tim Hopkins, (London: Half Pint Press, 2017). Museum no. 38041017029224. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Book, Falbalas & fanfreluches
‘Le Jour et la Nuit’, by George Barbier, in Falbalas & fanfreluches: almanach des modes présentes, passées & futures (Paris, 1922 – 26). Museum no. 38041800988834. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Proof of the cover to the first issue of Die neue Linie
Proof of the cover to the first issue of Die neue Linie, designed by Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer (September 1929). Museum no. 38041800796336. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Mr. William Shakespeares comedies
Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories & tragedies: published according to the true originall copies, by William Shakespeare (London: Isaac Jaggard and Edward Blount, 1623). Museum no. Dyce 8936. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Exhibition catalogue
Radical Fashion, edited by Claire Wilcox (London: V&A Publications, 2001). Museum no. 38041001086511. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bible
Bible, vol. 1 (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1483). Museum no. A.L.793-1894. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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