The Manufacture de Sèvres library was begun in the 18th century with illustrated works providing the institution’s decorators with models. These first books focused on plants and animals and on the antiquities then being discovered, complemented by books illustrated with engravings. In the 19th century, the library was enriched with numerous travel memoirs, notably: Description de l’Égypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'expédition de l'armée française (first edition: 1809-1822) and Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l'ancienne France (1820-1878) by Justin Taylor (1789-1879).
Over the years, the library has progressively encompassed the history and techniques of ceramics, as well as all the decorative arts, and today houses nearly 50,000 works.
The PER series gathers together the library’s periodical collections, dating from the royal and imperial almanacs to contemporary French and foreign publications dealing with the ceramic arts, as well as other forms of artistic and technical creation. A dozen additional series also cover archaeology, natural history, the fine arts and travel literature. In addition, the Sèvres library houses a rich series of historic and promotional brochures concerning French and foreign ceramic manufactories, today almost impossible to find anywhere else. The library’s collection can be consulted via the reading room’s paper filing system, as well as by computer for those works digitalized since 2002.
The reading room constitutes a rich source of documentation on Sèvres’ porcelain productions, from its founding to the present day.
Organized alphabetically, then chronologically, the documentation allows users to search for vessels, vases, sculptures and artists.
The Museum’s documentary dossiers cover French and European porcelain, faience (from France and around the world), ceramics, ceramists (19th and 20th centuries), glass, stoneware, pottery and tiles.
The documentation essentially comprises paper files and descriptions (archive inventories, work summaries, surveys, studies), providing all available information on each separate object, notably its original title and its history (artist, date of creation, model, moulds, drawings, projects, inventory number, etc.).
Reading room open to the public by appointment:
Mondays & Wednesdays, from 10 AM to 12:30 PM and from 1:30 to 4:45 PM.
Thursdays, from 1:30 to 4:45 PM for the graphic arts.