In November 2012 the Biblioteca degli Uffizi, the most sumptuous of all Italian libraries, opens its doors to Parisian refinement by adding the art book Goyard, malletier, maison fondée en 1792 to its prized collections.
The book takes its place among 76,000 ancient and modern books, all of them rare, conserved in the precious surroundings of the Sala Magliabechiana, named after its first librarian Antonio Magliabechi, an avid reader whose many centres of interest raised the suspicions of the Inquisition.
First built as a theatre – the Teatrino della Baldracca – in the sixteenth century and converted into a library in 1747, the library is a triumph of fine wood panelling and leather bindings nestling at the heart of the pearl of Florentine galleries, the Uffizi. In this hidden treasure house, a haven of silence sheltered from the milling tourist throngs, time seems to have stood still. Every book is a chapter in a story made of unique pages whose value goes far beyond the passing whims of fashion.
The cradle of the art of furriery since the thirteenth century, Fiorenza is the elected home not only of Renaissance humanism, but also of the prestigious history of leather craftsmanship.
The arrival of this book in the library sees Italian tradition meet the typical Parisian refinement of Goyard. As Victor le Renard said in 1906, praising Goyard’s gold medal at the Milan World’s Fair: “French items still hold preference in all respects relating to finish and taste.”
Taking its place among the rarest Italian antiquarian books – the original edition of Vasari’s Le Vite is but one example –, the Goyard book harks back to the quintessential tradition of the Devambez publishing house: the idea of luxury as a contemporary anachronism, and of the past as a changeless driving force for the present.
Pierre Tzenkoff, Goyard, malletier, maison fondée en 1792, Paris, Devambez, 2010