Richelieu Library - Prints and Photography Reading Room

The Department of Prints and Photography owns over 15 million iconographic documents of all types: drawings, - mostly architectural - prints, photographs, posters, labels, postcards, fabric samples, playing cards etc.

The department also conserves an important collection of written items on art and printed documents on its areas of expertise: books, periodicals, sales catalogues etc. During the second phase of the renovation of the Richelieu Library, the department welcomes its readers in the consultation spaces of the General Collection and of the Reserve (Espace Jacques Doucet) within the Labrouste room (reading room of the INHA Library).

documents’ consultation

The Department collections cannot be reserved in advance.
You can book documents on the same day in the reading room through the general catalog (online personal space) or at the Welcome desks of the General Collection or Reserve (pickup times for communication requests for the General Collection: 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12 pm, 12:45 pm; 13:15 pm, 2 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:15 pm, 5 pm; for the Reserve: 10 am, 10:15 am, 10:45 am, 11:15 am, 11:50 am). Requests are usually limited to ten original documents and ten microforms per day and per person.

Part of the heritage collections of the department is not conserved on site, which induces delays. The request will be registered at the department’s Welcome desk.

For large format items, the communication of documents takes place on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm, by appointment via email only.

The collections of the department are all mentioned, even minimally, in the general catalog of the BnF. To research an iconographic document, we advise you to limit your research to «Images et cartes»: :

The department has a policy of making their works available on Gallica. To research an iconographic document, we advise you to limit your research to the «Images»  collections:

Reference filings on authors, works and themes:

Our Ask a Librarian (SINDBAD) service as well as the mail address are at the readers’ disposal for further requests.


fields and Noteworthy collection

The department offers 2,500 volumes in the reading room to access the collections and documenting the department’s areas of interest.


  • Catalogs and  collection inventories of the department (including some inventories of the image collections conserved in other BnF departments)

  • BnF exhibition catalogs

  • General bibliographical research tools

  • Tables of periodicals in art and art history

  • Reference bibliographies on the history of books (Cohen, Monglond, Vicaire etc.)

  • Watermark dictionaries

  • General research tools in art history

  • Iconology dictionaries

  • National biographical dictionaries on artists and monograms 
  • International biographical dictionaries on artists and monograms

  • Regional biographical dictionaries on artists and monograms

  • Analyses and catalogs on artistic salons


Specific fields

Drawing and graphic design

  • History, Biographical dictionaries, techniques, and processes

  • Caricatures and graphic novels

  • Graphic design and illustrations

  •  Books on artists

  • Illustrated books

  • Advertising posters and illustrations

  • Monographs on cartoonists and poster designersI


  • General works on engraving. The complete collection of the Nouvelles de l’estampe is now freely accessible

  • Biographical dictionaries on engravers and publishers

  • nventories and reference repertoires (Hollstein, Bartsch, Portalis et Béraldi, Delteil, …)

  • Techniques

  • Particular uses of engraving (popular imagery,  theses, ex-libris…)

  • Monographs and catalogues raisonnés on engravers

  • History of engraving by geographical zones: German engraving, French engraving, Dutch and Flemish engraving, Japanese prints etc.


  • General works on photography

  • Philosophy, aesthetics, theory

  • Techniques

  • Dictionaries

  • Photograph library, museums, libraries

  • Monographs of photographers

  • Biographical dictionaries of photographers

  • History of photography classified by geographical zones

  • History of photography classified by themes: photojournalism, social and political themes, geographical themes, photographs of the human body etc.


Services offered

Photographing documents: document photography with your personal camera (only for private use) is allowed without flash if the state of documents permits it. Some documents cannot be photographed for legal reasons: refer to the room’s desk.
Internet access with a wired connection to computerized catalogs and online databases from your personal computer

Document consultation: thank you for
●   Only using a pencil or a computer for note-taking
●   Eating and drinking outside of the room
●   Switch your mobile devices on silent mode
●   Put your personal belongings in the lockers at the entrance hall


Practical Informations

You can access the reading room only with a valid research pass.


please note
During the second phase of the Richelieu Library renovation, the department welcomes readers in the Labrouste room (reading room of the INHA Library). You must, therefore, make sure that your pass gives you annual access to INHA with the mention  « Lecteur Estampes seul ». Refer to the accreditation service. 


Bibliothèque nationale de France
58 rue de Richelieu 75002 Paris
33 |0|1 53 79 83 80


General Collection : 10 AM - 18 PM from Monday to Saturday

Reserve : 10 AM - 13 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
We strongly advise you to prepare your visit by writing a mail to:
Large format communications (starting from ‘format 4’) are only possible on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2 pm to 5 pm, by appointment: