Iconographic sections

The institute conserves over a million works, including 15.000 artistic prints, ranging from the first 15th century xylographs to modern graphic design, organised according to iconographic criteria.  The wealth of material is divided into thematic sections: maps and views, historic, art and popular prints, graphic design, editorial design, conceptual design, bookplates, fashion plates, fans, games and playing cards, business and greeting cards, coloured papers, postcards, almanacs and calendars, letterheads, paper money and paper values, lists of food, heraldry and flags.

Maps and Views

There are about 30.000 prints, divided according to the subject represented, providing an account of places and monuments that have been altered or even demolished over the centuries. It includes maps, topographical plans, views of cities, and Italian and foreign locations in the period between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Historical Prints

The historical print section contains approximately 20.000 specimens arranged chronologically. Of particular interest are the prints on the Italian Risorgimento ranging from the riots in Sicily, Naples and Piedmont of 1820-1821 to the unification of Italy.

Art Prints

There are about 80.000 works by great artists active between the 15th and the 20th centuries. Mantegna, Dürer, Piranesi, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Munch, Morandi are just some of the great masters who also expressed themselves through engraving techniques, creating true masterpieces. Particularly noteworthy is the engraving by Bernardo Prevedari on the design of Bramante, executed in 1481 and of which only two examples survive, the second of these being in the British Museum in London.

Popular Prints

Bertarelli was among the first to devote great attention to this kind of collection, putting together approximately 20.000 prints. The sheets are a chronicle of daily life, the tastes, customs and the religious beliefs of a people. Worthy of note are the Mitelli holdings, which retain almost the entire corpus of this 17th century Bolognese copperplate engraver, a most accomplished exponents of the art.

Graphic Design in Advertising

One of the most bountiful parts of the collection contains printed advertising materials, such as magazines, sketches and posters. The area dedicated to posters in particular, composed of about 7.000 examples promoting industrial products, magazines, cinemas, theatres, resorts, exhibitions and political propaganda, is both nationally and internationally renowned. The collection includes the works of important artists such as Marcello Dudovich, Leonetto Cappiello, Bruno Munari, Leopoldo Metlicovitz, Alphonse Mucha.

Editorial Graphic Design

Also very fond of printed books, Achille Bertarelli collected both complete picture books and individual sheets from volumes dating between the 15th and 20th centuries. Composed primarily of Italian works published from the 18th to the 19th century, over the years Bertarelli’s initial collection was enriched by the addition of important works, as well as by magazine covers that testified to research in graphic design by famous authors.

Conceptual Design

The holdings and archives of the collection preserve graphic materials for interior design from the 19th and 20th centuries. Left to the Bertarelli by the heirs of famous designers such as Mazzucotelli (1865-1938), Eugenio (1867-1929) and Mario (1901-1974) Quarti, and the interior designer and theatrical scenographer Renzo Mongiardino (1916-1998), the holdings document the evolution of furnishing.