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Book collection of Koper aristocratic family on display in Ljubljana

Ljubljana, 16 February - A selection of books of the Grisoni aristocratic family that lived in the coastal town of Koper between the 15th and 19th centuries will be on display for the first time at the National and University Library (NUK) as of today.

The National and University Library in Ljubljana.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

The books were the ownership of Count Francesco Grisoni (1772-1841), the last member of the family.

The exhibition features mostly books purchased by Francesco, but also some older pieces that had probably belonged to his ancestors, his father and uncles.

A total of 3,288 items will be exhibited, including books, serial publications and periodicals that were issued between the 16th and 20th centuries.

The books are divided by topics into the Enlightenment books, the history of the Venetian Republic, the Italian language and culture, French literature, geographical discoveries and agriculture.

Half of the books are historical, a quarter fiction and the rest from the field of humanities.

The family's library boasted all of Moliere's plays, works by Petrarca and Boccaccio, a number of dictionaries, atlases, bibliographies, art history and architecture books, books on the history of the Church, on natural science, mathematics, agronomy, botany and medicine.

A centrepiece is the 1798 original plan for a Grisoni countryside residence in Dajla, present-day Croatia, by a French architect that has never been realised.

The books are well preserved and covered in uniform leather covers from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Older books are mostly bound in parchment.

The Grisoni family lived in Koper from the 15th century on. In the 17th century, they formed ties with the Vergerio and Fini families. By embracing the heritage of the Sabini family, Francesco's father Santo became one of the wealthiest men in Istria.

A successful lawyer, health supervisor, bibliophile, philanthropist and cosmopolitan, Francesco, and his wife Marianna Pola Grisoni are known for their charity.

Information on their precious library are scarce. The count left it in his will to a Benedictine monk from the Praglia Abbey but it has nonetheless staid in Koper.

Since 1952, the books have been kept by the main Koper library, while the Grisoni family archives now belong to the Koper regional archives.

© STA, 2017