Department of Prints and Drawings/Photo Archive
The Department of Prints and Drawings/Photo Archive of Zentralbibliothek Zürich (ZB) houses one of the most important national and historico-cultural pictorial collections in Switzerland and covers the period from the 15th to the 21st centuries. The collection comprises approximately 640,000 drawings, printed illustrations, postcards, photographs, paintings and sculptures.
The objects from the early modern era to the end of the 19th century include mainly portraits, city views, landscapes and bookplates. The collection of paintings is of European stature, while the topographic and bookplate collections are important in Switzerland. The internationally renowned "Wickiana" collection, named after the Zurich clergyman Johann Jakob Wick, is a highlight among the older works. Between 1560 and his death in 1588, Wick acquired almost 440 mostly coloured, traditional woodcut. The images depict subjects from religion, nature and politics.
The valuable art collection of Gottfried Keller and the prints by Salomon Gessner, Daniel Chodowiecki and Franz Hegi are also worthy of mention. The Graphic Collection comprises important works by Johann Jakob Aschmann, Hans Conrad Escher von der Linth, Hans Erhard Escher, Johann Heinrich Füssli, Johann Melchior Füssli, Franz Hegi, David Hess, Johann Jakob Hofmann, Diethelm Heinrich Lavater, Conrad Meyer, Johannes Meyer, Rudolf Meyer, Hans Conrad Nözli, Clementine Stockar-Escher and Johann Jakob Wirz. The collection of paintings, which dates back to the former Zurich City Library, includes outstanding portraits painted between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Of particular importance is the world's largest collection of photochrom prints – top-quality colour lithographic images produced from black-and-white photographic negatives, a technology which reached its zenith before the First World War. One of the strengths of the Graphic Collection, representing the era from the 19th to the 21st centuries is the Photo Archive with around 470,000 photos. There is also a growing number of bequest collections left to the Library by artists before and after their deaths, including legacies from important figures such as Otto Baumberger, Gottfried Honegger, Warja Lavater and Gregor Rabinovitch.