15 June 2022

De Agostini Picture Library

With about 1 million photographs, De Agostini Picture Library is the richest Italian photographic collection to illustrate projects of history, nature, science and ancient civilizations...

With about 1 million photographs, De Agostini Picture Library is the richest Italian photographic collection available to illustrate projects of history, nature, science and ancient civilizations. Since 2019 Scala Archives is pleased to be the primary international agent of this prestigious collection.

The collection of a publisher, and not only

De Agostini Picture Library was founded, as a true photographic agency, about 15 years ago out of the awareness of the unique iconographic richness of the most important Italian publishing and multimedia groups. Until that moment, in fact, the immense photographic production of the Publisher had remained jealously guarded in Novara and accessible only to internal editors.

With a long lasting commitment, De Agostini Picture Library has made accessible – thanks to its international agents – a collection which is rivalled by none for it enciclopedic scope and capillary depth. Worldwide photo shoots were regularly commissioned from highly professional photographers – such as Giorgio Nimatallah and Gianni and Alfredo Dagli Orti, just to name a few – to increase the photographic agency;s holdings as well as illustrate different editorial products, from encyclopedias to textbooks, offering the reader a detailed knowledge of innumerable topics such as archaeology, art, nature, science, history, music, literature…

To the above mentioned photographic campaigns, DeAgostini added digitization campaigns of carefully selected archival and librarian funds purchased by the publisher itself or owned by other institutions with whom specific unique agreements were forged, such as the collections of the Illustrazione Italiana, the collection of Mediterranean archaeology by Judith Lange, miniatures and vintage illustrations available at the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. Again, this small list is by no means exhaustive.

Italy – 19th century – Giuseppe Garibaldi and the names of the Thousand. Print from 1860.  © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA09372
 Egypt, Thebes (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979) – Luxor. Dayr al-Madina. Tomb of sculptor Ipuy. Burial chamber. Mural paintings. Ritual embalming (Dynasty 19, Ramses II, 1290-1224 BC) © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA02966

Photography as documentation and promotion

Strongly influenced by the need to promote knowledge , photography becomes for Publisher De Agostini a tool to promote knowledge. The photographers hired by the company understood the goal and the subsequent need to cancel as much as possible their own stylistic preferences to make the reportage as objective and neutral as possible. They did such a great job that the photos remain valid with the passing of time, and allow many other publishers (and not only) to use the images to illustrate stories and places currently inaccessible or, even worse, destroyed by wars or environmental disasters.

The need for cultural documentation is the main driving force behind the expansion of the archive over time. The encyclopedic vocation is clear but the result is never trivial. Even travel reports do not give way to style, and remain able to highlight the subject bringing us on an endless journey around the world.

Archaeological site. Pyramid of Kukulcan Chichen Itza, Mexico © 
DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA01894 –
Tuaregs standing in front of a mosque Timbuktu, Mali © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA01844 –
Decorative element of a building in Mustafapasa, Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey. © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DE37272 –

Works of art & the decorative arts

Among the various types of services, the campaigns dedicated to shooting of works of art deserve a note. Among the many shots from important international museums of particular interest, are the masterpieces of prestigious international museums which are currently inaccessible such as, for example, the Asian museums or those of the former Soviet Union.

Study for Mystery-Bouffe, 1919. Gouache and pencil on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA08740 – 

Furthermore the possibility to access private collections and minor museums, now makes it possible to publish a rich collection of posters, objects of design, decorative arts, historical photography, and memorabilia.

Poster, Italy, 20th century. ‘Fiat in pista’. Advertising poster, 1923 © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Firenze – DA02620 –

Herbaria and XVI century publications are also milestones of the archive.

Herbal, 18th century. From Dioscorides’ work. Plate: Chili Pepper plant (Capsicum). 
Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs, Parigi, Francia ©  DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA09428 –

An encyclopedic collection

Particularly useful is the rich collection of drawings and historical reconstructions: buildings and architectural structures, dinosaurs and prehistoric habitats, elements of ancient history such as costumes, tools, and scenes of everyday life.

ast but not least the unique collection of colorized antique prints is appreciated by all.

Archaeology – Jerusalem. Reconstructed Solomon’s Palace and Temple. Colour illustration © DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – DA02325 –

New Picture Library, Today

The De Agostini Picture Library collection continues its path and remains an irreplaceable source for creative projects. Through Scala Archives you can have access to the entire photographic collection of the Picture Library, both the images already digitized in high resolution as well as the part in process of digitization or new acquisition.

See here a selection of images already available online and contact us for more information.


Cover image: The proposed Polar expedition, how to reach the Pole by balloons, illustration from the magazine The Graphic, volume XVI, no 410, October 6, 1877. Digitally colorized image. © Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana/DeAgostini Picture Library/NPL/Scala, Florence – BC00472 –