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A bookplate, or an ownership mark, was very popular in Estonia in the 20th century. During more than a century-long period of development Estonian bookplate art has become a multifaceted art phenomenon of distinguished design level, an interesting and diverse collection of which is available in the National Library. The collection is one of the largest in Estonia, comprising over 17 000 bookmarks and providing a complete overview of the development of our bookplate art. The collection holds the first bookplates by Paul Raud and Udo Ivask, the founders of this art, as well as works by all former top artists (Eduard Wiiralt, Günther Reindorff, Hando Mugasto, Märt Laarman) up to the 1990s.
The design and illustration of books in the first decades of the 20th centuries became systematic and professional. The National Library purchased the first originals of book illustrations in the 1980s, the illustrations of Märt Laarman to the book Väike Illimar by Friedebert Tuglas (Tallinn, 1962).
The oldest originals in the collection are from 1911 – Rudolf Lepik’s Art Nouveau style illustrations for the album Pärnu maakonna laulupidu (Song Festival of Pärnumaa). The collections holds Villu Toots’ design to the magazine Kõigile from 1939 and Günther Reindorff’s illustrations to Valgekihv (White Fang) by Jack London from 1940.
The unique collection holds over 8000 original illustrations for 650 books. Represented are distinguished Estonian illustrators from the second half of the 1930s to the present day.
Explore the collection here
The Graphic Art Collection includes more than 800 graphic sheets and over 300 graphic art portfolios. In the recent years, a comprehensive survey of the art collection of the National Library has been conducted by the art historian Jüri Hain whose research has resulted in producing the following catalogues, introducing the art collection: Euroopa 17. sajandi sügavtrükigraafika Eesti Rahvusraamatukogus (17th Century European Intaglio Graphics in the National Library of Estonia) (Tallinn, 2004), Euroopa 18. sajandi sügavtrükigraafika Eesti Rahvusraamatukogus (18th Century European Intaglio Graphics in the National Library of Estonia) (Tallinn, 2005), Sajand Eesti puugravüüri klotsidel (A Century of Estonian Wood-Engraving) (Tallinn, 2006), Eesti graafika 1900-1940 Eesti Rahvusraamatukogus (Estonian Graphic Art 1900-1940 in the National Library of Estonia) (Tallinn, 2008), Pallaslaste maalikunst Eesti Rahvusraamatukogus (Paintings from the Pallas Art School in the National Library of Estonia) (Tallinn, 2008).
More information from a reference librarian of the Fine Arts Reading Room
20 December the library will be closed at 14.
21 December - 1 January the library will be closed.